CHAMPION — According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, of 41 countries examined, the U.S. was the only country that didn’t have mandated paid maternal or paternal leave by the federal government. But one local mine is helping bridge change after it implemented a new parental leave policy, furthering workplace diversity.
“We’re very progressive with our standards for safety and environment and community relations, so why not be more progressive with our maternity and paternity leave policy as well,” said Social Responsibility Advisor for Eagle Mine, Meagen Morrison.
It’s been a hot button issue inside and outside of congress, but progress is being made for paid parental leave at a local level. March ushered in a new level of workplace diversity for Eagle Mine as a new policy for paid maternity and paternity leave was implemented for its employees.
When Morrison was eight months pregnant with her second child, the CEO came for a tour and asked for suggestions to improve the work place. Close to giving birth, Morrison suggested making changes to the maternity and paternity leave policy.
Prior to the changes, the company worked under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which mandates 12 weeks of maternity leave, unpaid. The new policy implements a 12 week paid leave for women and an 80 hour paid leave for men who have new babies at home.
“This policy made it so much easier just to be at home, to be able to focus on caring for a newborn baby and taking care of my other children as well without having to worry about finances and how to make ends meet when you know you’re going to get the same paycheck throughout and that your job is going to be there when you get back,” Morrison said.
The leave allows new parents to not only bond with their newborn, but allows women to heal from the labor process.
“The dads need some of those weeks off as well. It’s important and I think that they recognize that and I think that as we continue to move forward on this issue that it’s incumbent on the private sector as well as the public sector to start embracing this and adopt these changes. Hats off to Eagle Mine,” said State Representative for the 109 District, John Kivela.
Kivela added that he hopes other companies look to Eagle Mine as an example to shape their policies on this issue. And according to Morrison, a few mines have already reached out to them about implementing similar policies.