Democrats are urging Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to allow rules to go into effect that would expand family leave options for state executive branch employees.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat, sent a letter to Greitens Tuesday in support of two changes to family leave policy that were originally proposed by his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
The proposals were unanimously approved by the state’s personnel advisory board in December, but the governor’s administration notified the board last week that it would not be moving forward with the changes.
The reason: An executive order Greitens issued last month banning state agencies from creating new regulations.
Never miss a local story.
One proposed change would allow state employees to use accrued sick leave to take time off after the birth or adoption of a child. Currently, sick leave can be used for pregnancy, childbirth and recovery from childbirth, but not for parental bonding.
The other change would expand parental leave in instances in which both parents are state employees. The state currently allows 12 weeks of protected leave, which must be split between both parents. The new policy would allow 12 weeks to each parent.
“Families benefit when parents are involved in the care of a child,” Galloway said, “and without these policy changes, many state employees will remain prohibited from using their own paid leave to take time off to bond with and care for a new addition to their families.”
Parker Briden, Greitens’ spokesman, told The Star in an email that the governor supports family leave for state employees.
“Our team is reviewing the auditor’s letter and the proposed rule change,” Briden said.
Worried that the executive order would affect the family leave changes, Democrats in the Missouri Senate sent the governor a letter asking him to allow the proposed changes to move forward.
“When parents are willing and able to do everything they can to care for their children and families,” the letter said, “government should not stand in the way with burdensome bureaucracy.”
The governor did not respond to the letter.
State employees in Missouri are the lowest paid in the nation. In the run-up to the 2017 legislative session, House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican, said one of his top priorities would be a bill granting state workers paid time off upon the birth or adoption of a child.
That bill has not yet received a committee hearing.