Gaston: Other U.S. cities should follow San Francisco’s decision to provide fully-paid parental leave

Sam Gaston

On Tuesday, San Francisco became the first city to implement fully-paid parental leave in the U.S. The city ruled that all couples will be fully compensated for six weeks after the child is born. More cities need to follow San Francisco’s iconic decision and implement fully-paid parental leave.

California already had parental leave pay for six weeks, but employees only received 55 percent of their pay. Now, the law requires that the employers pay the remaining 45 percent. To receive this benefit, the employee must work with the company for a minimum of 180 days. The law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.


Hopefully, many more cities and states will follow in the footsteps of San Francisco and compensate all couples fully for the six-week period while they bond with a newborn. It seems like this policy should have been implemented a long time ago. While parents are compensated 55 percent in some states, not all states have this policy in place and the amount of compensation is not nearly enough. 

Obviously, having a newborn is very expensive. While the 55-percent pay is set in place to be a safety net for new parents, it can still be a source of stress surrounding what should be a calm bonding time with their new baby. New parents may feel that they need to get back to work sooner to receive their full pay to support their new, growing family. They may feel hesitant to take advantage of the six-week period because finances are in the front of their mind. 

Zeynep Biringen, a CSU professor in the department of human development and family studies, provided her input on the subject.

“Six weeks is a bare minimum for new family formation, and not having that time for both parents means that they are scrambling to make emotional ends meet as they learn about the new demands on their time. The new baby often comes with sleeping and feeding discoveries,” she explained. “From a clinical standpoint, this paid leave is important.”

Professor Biringen also highlighted the importance of full compensation over the six-week period. Not having to worry about finances allows the parents to fully bond with their newest addition. Without the burden of being under-financed, the parents can devote their time and energy toward the new baby.

Those that oppose this new law in San Francisco may argue that it is not beneficial for all if the law were to become more widespread. One argument that can be made on the conflicting side is that not everyone receives benefits from this law. With the new parents gone from work, the money could be allocated to those making up for their absence. Also, not everyone chooses or has the ability to have children. These employees may feel that they get the short end of the stick by not being able to take advantage of this law.

However, this law needs to become more widespread throughout the country because of how many people it would help, and decisions have to be made all the time that don’t necessarily benefit everyone but the benefits that could be provided are hugely important. Its implementation in San Francisco could be the extra push the rest of the states need to see how beneficial this law could be. New parents will be able to focus their time and energy on their growing family and have peace of mind in terms of financial security for this six-week period, which though seemingly underplayed, is an incredibly important time period for parents to solidify a bond with a new child.

Collegian Columnist Sammy Gaston can be reached at or on Twitter @SammyGaston.