Dallas looking into offering paid parental leave for city employees

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, whose wife gave birth to their third child less than a week ago, is now calling on the city to consider offering paid parental leave. 

As the first mayor in Dallas history to have a baby born while in office, Johnson feels a responsibility to take on this issue. 

"We do try to create a good workplace. pretty progressive. I was taken aback by the fact we don't have any policy at all," the mayor said.

Dallas employees, like many city employees across North Texas, only have sick and vacation time to use while on leave, and when that's out, they go unpaid. 

Fort Worth recently became the largest North Texas city to offer paid leave. 

"Hard to encourage private sector to do things we don't do here," Johnson added.

Johnson asked the chair of the Government Performance and Financial Management Committee, Cara Mendelsohn, to examine the cost and how many weeks Dallas should offer. 

"It's a struggle, I know for me, I dropped out of the workforce after two kids. Things we can do to keep bright leadership, I think it is an important thing to do," Mendelsohn said.

If it makes the budget, the paid leave would apply to all levels of city employees, but not elected officials. 

[REPORTER: "Can the city afford to do something like this?"]

"We have a big budget, $4 billion. We can afford to do just about anything, the question is what our priorities are," Mendelsohn explained.

Lauren McKinnon, CEO of Project Mockingbird, is a mother of three who founded her company in part because of the lack of options for working parents. 

"We have mothers in Dallas going back days after giving birth. They are not physically recovered, mentally recovered, you cannot put a child in daycare until they are six weeks," she said.

If Dallas approves a plan, McKinnon hopes that will send a message to private businesses as well.

"You can't go back to work on two hours of sleep, employer shouldn't want you in the office on two hours sleep, there is so much more to it," she said.

Fort Worth offers its employees six weeks of paid parental leave.                 

A spokesman for Plano said employees receive three weeks of sick time and three weeks of vacation time each year, which employees are allowed to roll over and use for parental leave.          

The government performance committee will likely take this issue up right after the new city council is sworn in.