Unpaid 12-week family leave policies for state and Kanawha County employees would become paid under separate proposed enhancements introduced Tuesday in the House of Delegates and expected to be approved Thursday during a vote by the Kanawha County Commission.
House Bill 4189, introduced by Delegate Moore Capito, R-Kanawha, would provide 12 weeks of paid family leave for state employees following the birth or adoption of a child, or when a family member is suffering from a serious illness.
Current state law provides for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for employees under the same circumstances.
“West Virginians value family above all, and this bill is a demonstration of the pro-family nature of our state,” Capito said in a statement released after the bill’s introduction on Tuesday. “We never want our employees to have to choose between work and those first weeks with their children, or when someone they love is dealing with a serious health crisis.”
Kanawha County’s new family leave policy would allow those who have worked at least one year for the county to take 12 weeks of paid leave immediately following the birth of a son or daughter, or the placement of a son or daughter with the employee through adoption or foster care.
“In these situations, parents shouldn’t have to wonder if they will receive a paycheck,” said Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango.
Kanawha County’s new policy would also cover employees who are grandparents, whose biological, adopted or foster grandchildren have been placed in their care.
“Grandparents who step up and take over the responsibility of raising their grandchildren will have the necessary time to adjust during this important transition,” Salango said. “This new policy confirms our commitment to our 500 employees and their families, and takes into consideration the way things have changed with the arrival of the opioid crisis.”
Capito said he was confident his bill, co-sponsored by Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, would pass this session. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, of which Capito is vice chairman, and the House Finance Committee.
“The federal government is working to implement a similar policy in October of 2020,” Salango observed. The county commission, he said, “wants to be in the forefront” by having the new policy in effect this month.
The commission’s new policy does not include 12 weeks of paid leave for employees caring for seriously ill family members, as is the case with Capito’s bill, but is expected to address that issue at a later date, according to Salango.