Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has signed an executive order expanding maternity and family leave for new parents.
"It used to be, 'Save up your vacation time; save up your paid leave. Save it up, and then you can take all that time,'" remembers Lynda Bell, executive director of Florida Right to Life. "Now the governor has said that eligible state employees will receive paid maternity leave for up to seven weeks and parental leave for two weeks. That could be the father staying home for two weeks with the mom, or it could be combined to be nine weeks."
The new policy covers any new mother or father who has been with the state of Florida as a full-time employee for at least one year. It:
- Provides 280 hours (7 weeks) of paid maternity leave immediately following the birth of a child.
- Provides 80 hours (2 weeks) of paid parental leave within the first 12 months of the birth or adoption of a child.
- Authorizes the use of sick leave to bond with a new child for up to a maximum of 16 weeks (when combined with paid maternity and parental leave) within the first 12 months of the birth or adoption of a child.
Bell notes the importance of a newborn bonding with his or her parents in those first months of life outside the womb, as it can, among other things, greatly impact their social and cognitive development. Paid leave for the parents also improves both parental and infant health, including physical health and well-being.
"What it's showing once again is that the pro-life community and our pro-life governor, we are not just pro-baby," the pro-lifer asserts about the policy. "We want to benefit women, moms."
Bell has no doubt that Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis contributed to the decision, because she is very pro-woman, pro-mom, and pro-life.