Mayor Murray, Council enact 12-week paid parental leave, increased wage transparency for City employees

Today, Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember M. Lorena González enacted new paid family and parental leave policies and new wage transparency measures. The bills call for the current paid parental leave policy for City employees to be increased to 12 weeks and provides four weeks of paid family leave for employees to care for sick family members. The legislation makes Seattle the first municipality in the region to offer robust parental and paid family care leave. These benefits will be implemented retroactively to January 1, 2017 allowing City employees to access this leave for events starting this year.

Also, beginning in March, City employee salaries will be made available on Seattle.gov to increase wage transparency throughout City departments to help close the gender and racial pay-gap at the City. These proposals stem from the City’s Workforce Equity Strategic plan.

“No person should be forced to choose between their job and caring for their family,” said Mayor Murray. “These measures ensure City employees will no longer be forced to take unpaid leave to care for aging parents, and new moms will have access to more paid leave to welcome and care for a child. These are steps in the right direction and I urge private businesses to follow our lead in creating a fairer workplace for people of color, women, and working families.”

“It’s no secret that family-care obligations often fall to women, and particularly women of color,” said Councilmember González (Position 9, Citywide). “With paid family and parental leave policies get to the heart of racial and gender equity, today we remove institutional barriers to employment opportunities at the City and once again, lead the country by living and practicing our values.”

“No one should have to choose between taking care of loved ones and earning a paycheck,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia). “When a new child is born or adopted, or a family has a health crisis, City of Seattle employees will now have a minimum of 12 weeks of paid assistance. And vacation leave and sick leave can be ‘banked’ to provide more paid time for the family. As employers, we know that our new plan will bring us in line with other industrial nations, and data confirms our city will benefit from deeply loyal workers and healthy families.”

“Not everyone has children,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park).  “Therefore, since family-care duties are often fulfilled by women, and chiefly women of color, extending paid family leave beyond just parental leave is a matter of equity – both inside and outside City Hall.”

Those employed by the City for at least six months will automatically receive eight weeks of paid parental leave when a new child is born or a child is placed in their legal care. Four additional weeks are available to employees depending on the amount of leave remaining in their vacation and sick time balances.

Paid Parental Leave:

  • The leave benefit will increase from four weeks to up to twelve weeks for eligible employees, for the non-medical care of a newborn or child placed for adoption, foster care or legal guardianship.
  • The leave must be used within 12 months of birth or placement.

Paid Family Care Leave:

  • Eligible employees may receive up to four weeks for the care of a qualifying family member with a serious health condition in a 12-month period.
  • Qualifying family members include employees’ parents, spouses or domestic partners and children, or the children or parents of employees’ spouses or domestic partners.
  • Eligible employees must have the serious health condition of a family member certified by a health care provider, and must draw down their sick leave to a minimum of two weeks and vacation leave to one week to receive “new” leave.

 

Increased paid family and parental leave benefits are projected to cost the City $2.3 million in General Funds annually. In July of 2016, Mayor Murray and the City Council unveiled a joint comprehensive Workforce Equity Strategic Plan to promote greater workforce equity, including actions to improve hiring, promotion and career development; reduce institutional barriers for current or potential employees; as well as broaden parental leave policies and increase family care benefits for City employees. The bill was introduced by Councilmember González and cosponsored by Councilmembers Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Council President Bruce Harrell, Herbold, Rob Johnson, Debra Juarez, Mike O’Brien, and Kshama Sawant. Mayor Murray will sign the legislation into law this Friday, February 17.

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Mayor Murray statement on September job numbers

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after new unemployment figures were released by the Washington State Employment Security Department. The Seattle-area unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent during the month of September, which is the lowest jobless rate since 2008.

“Seattle’s economy is thriving and strong job numbers indicate that we have returned to employment numbers not seen since the Great Recession. Today’s good news shows that we can raise the minimum wage for workers while growing the local job market at the same time.

“However, far too many people of color, youth, immigrants, and women are still struggling to make ends meet in our city. We are taking concrete steps to address this inequity—be it through raising the minimum wage, addressing the gender-pay gap, creating more affordable housing, and investing in early education and transportation—we are ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from Seattle’s vibrant and growing economy.”

 

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Murray announces plan to address pay equity in City workforce

Mayor Ed Murray today signed an executive order establishing an action plan to close the gender wage gap within the City of Seattle workforce.

“The City of Seattle already outperforms the region and the rest of the nation when it comes to gender equity in the workplace, but better is not good enough,” Murray said. “We must do more to ensure that women, particularly women of color, are provided more and better opportunities to access higher paying jobs.”

Last year, Mayor Murray and Councilmember Jean Godden introduced a joint resolution affirming the City’s commitment to gender equity. As part of that resolution, the Mayor and Council committed to providing a deeper analysis of City-wide gender pay data, including an analysis of other factors such as race, age, sexual orientation, and other demographic information.

DCI Consulting Group, a Washington D.C. consulting firm specializing in human resource management, was commissioned to provide this follow-up analysis in a Workforce Pay Equity and Utilization study released today. The study found that the City of Seattle shows that the average annualized salary for women in Seattle city government is 89.8% of the average male salary, or about 90 cents to the dollar. That compares to 77% nationally and 74% regionally.

The study found there were no indications of systemic gender or race/ethnicity discrimination by the City in its compensation, hiring or promotion practices. The data shows, however, that more men are employed in higher-wage positions in the City’s three largest departments which comprise 43% of all City employees: the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, and Seattle City Light. After removing these departments from the Citywide analysis, the City found that the unadjusted gender pay gap narrows to 98.2%.

The study also finds that 22 percent of women in the City of Seattle are employed part-time versus 12 percent of men. And in two job classifications – Strategic Advisor 1 and IT Professional C – there was an unexplained pay gap between Caucasians and people of color.

“Now is the time to make salary transparency the rule here in Seattle, to end promotion obstacles for women and minority employees and to bolster and improve recruitment, mentoring and retention policies,” said Councilmember Godden, Chair of the Council’s committee on Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity. “While I am proud of the work Seattle has done, I want to take this a step farther by looking at discretionary job placement – the ground zero of wage gap inequality – and continue to adopt policies that help us reach our pay equity goals. I will be working hard, alongside the Mayor and city department heads to make sure all of these become a reality.”

The mayor will sign an executive order that outlines the following Action Plan steps:

  • An interdepartmental team (IDT) will be formed and will be comprised of key members from the Mayor’s office, City Budget Office, the Office of Civil Rights, the Seattle Department of Human Resources, the Seattle Police Department, Seattle City Light, the Seattle Fire Department, and Seattle Public Utilities to review the study findings and determine root causes and potential solutions to the gender pay gap. The IDT will create and propose enhanced best practices around recruitment and retention of women and people of color for Citywide implementation.
  • The IDT will assess why Strategic Advisor 1 and IT Professional C classifications show an unexplained pay gap. The IDT will provide recommendations to address their findings.
  • The IDT will assess how employees are assigned to full- and part-time jobs to understand the disparity between genders. The assessment will determine whether positions occupied by women are more likely to be budgeted as part-time or if women request part-time work more often than men.
  • The Citywide Human Resources Leadership Group will work with departments to consolidate and align best HR policies, processes, and practices Citywide. This work will specifically look at ways to increase opportunities for women and people of color and will include developing a consistent Citywide exit interview and employee engagement process to determine why, in aggregate, employees stay or leave City employment.
  • To support these efforts and increase transparency, the Human Resources department will determine the most appropriate method to publish City salaries.
  • The Office of Civil Rights and the Human Resources Department will continue to develop a comprehensive Gender Justice Project, focusing on policy, programs, training, and services for women of color and girls of color, as well as transgender and gender non-conforming people. This work will include developing a web portal to serve as a gateway to access Citywide services.

Women to be Honored for Efforts to End Gender Inequity and to Promote Civil Rights

Women to be Honored for Efforts to End Gender Inequity and to Promote Civil Rights

 SEATTLECouncilmember Jean Godden and the Seattle Women’s Commission have partnered, for the first time, to honor outstanding women and organizations in our community working to end women’s economic inequality and to champion Civil Rights.

This evening, the Jeanette Williams Award will be presented to Tammy Nguyen, for her work on the Women in the Green Economy program at the Got Green organization; to the YWCA, for its Economic Resilience Initiative; and to Laura Culberg, owner of SweatBox Yoga for strong workplace equity policies.

“I am proud to honor these exceptional women and organizations, which work every day to do all they can to foster the success of women and families in Seattle,” said Councilmember Jean Godden, Chair of the Parks, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity Committee.  “They are our City’s greatest hope of creating a culture where all our residents have an opportunity succeed and thrive.”

The Jeanette Williams Award was established in 2003 to honor individuals who demonstrate significant leadership and service in advancing the cause of women in Seattle.  This year, the award is exclusively focused on honoring those making strides to end women’s economic inequality.

Since the 2013 report stating that Seattle has one of the widest wage gaps in the nation, Councilmember Godden and the Women’s Commission have worked to establish programs and policies to reach pay parity between men and women in the City of Seattle.

“All the honorees being recognized this evening are fantastic examples of Jeanette Williams’ legacy of service and leadership. Their commitment to women’s and civil rights in our community should be celebrated.  We appreciate their dedication and leadership here in Seattle and are grateful to Councilmember Jean Godden for her support of this event,” said representatives of the Seattle Women’s Commission.

The Civil Rights Awards will be given to Estela Ortega for her long history of community organizing and work with El Centro de la Raza, and to Nicole Vallestero Keenan for her community leadership with Puget Sound Sage.

“Estela has worked tirelessly in helping our community for more than 40 years and Nicole’s work and advocacy for low-wage workers during the minimum wage legislation was tremendous,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell regarding the Civil Rights Award.

The awards will be presented tonight, Wednesday, September 24, at a celebration in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Avenue at 6 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public.

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Seafair Princesses at Council Today, Addressing Gender Pay Gap


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 7/21/2014

Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Sally J. Clark

Seafair Princesses at Council Today, Addressing Gender Pay Gap

SeattleCouncilmembers Jean Godden and Sally J. Clark welcomed the Seafair Princesses to City Council today to discuss gender pay disparity in Seattle and how the Seafair Foundation’s Scholarship Program for Women participants can help take action to address the problem.  Councilmembers engaged with the young women, who agreed to become "Gender Pay Ambassadors," bringing awareness of the pay disparity to their respective communities.  The young women then visited Full Council, where Councilmembers proclaimed July 21, "Seafair Foundation Day."

"These young women are our future leaders, and I’m thrilled to have them engage in the issues of equal pay and gender equity," said Councilmember Jean Godden. "I’m thankful for Seafair Foundation’s Scholarship Program for Women which provides more than $20,000 in scholarship assistance to young women seeking academic scholarships and leadership development."

Councilmembers discussed the recent study which found that, on average, women in the Puget Sound region are paid $0.73 relative to every dollar a man earned.  Among City employees, women were found to have earned $0.90 for every dollar a man earned and comprise only 1/3 of the City workforce.  Between 2013 and 2014, Councilmember Godden spearheaded an effort with former Mayor Mike McGinn and current Mayor Ed Murray to identify solutions to end the disparity.  Work to address the disparity is currently underway.

"The Scholarship Program for Women empowers young women to reach their personal and professional goals by showcasing their academic abilities, community service, and public speaking skills," said Beth Knox, Seafair President and CEO. "Visiting City Hall and meeting female civic leaders is an important addition to their experience with Seafair and the community."

With a mission to promote philanthropy, diversity and community involvement, participants/princesses represent Seafair at nearly 20 community events and parades. Participants are also paired with respected local female professionals in a Mentorship Program. This program provides the opportunity for participants to gain professional experience through networking and exposure to the business world.

The Seafair Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable partner of the Seafair Festival, was established to create and build opportunities for Seafair’s youth education, cultural and community engagement programs. Their mission is to empower our future leaders and connect Greater Puget Sound through unique experiences. The Seafair Foundation is passionate about celebrating the culture and unique assets of your community, which contributes to the quality of life for those who live, work and play here.

[View in Council Newsroom]