Early Matters Greater Austin advocacy win: Paid parental leave in Travis County

On May 3, the Travis County Commissioners Court unanimously voted to offer Travis County employees eight weeks of paid parental leave! The resolution was sponsored by Travis County Judge Andy Brown and Precinct 1 Travis County Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion, and advocated for by the Early Matters Greater Austin Steering Committee. 

Powered by United Way for Greater Austin and E3 Alliance, Early Matters Greater Austin (EMGA) is an alliance of current and retired business professionals focused on the critical relationship between access to high-quality early education and our State’s long-term economic success. A significant aspect of the group’s work — known as Best Place for Working Parents® — is advocating for family-friendly workplace practices that are research proven to benefit families and have a positive impact on a businesses’ profitability. The EMGA Steering Committee’s advocacy for Travis County expanding family-friendly policies for their 5,000+ employees, is an example of that work. 

After the unanimous vote to implement paid parental leave, EMGA Steering Committee member Tom Hedrick spoke about the positive impact family-friendly policies have on families, businesses, and our larger economy. 

Travis County is proving family-friendly is business-friendly 

While family-friendly policies have a direct impact on working parents, local and national research proves that there is also a serious business case to being family-friendly:

  • 83% of millennials would leave one job for another with stronger family-friendly supports
  • Replacing an employee costs an employer six to nine months of that employee’s salary
  • Over 60% of working parents said child care issues have caused them to miss work
  • Texas loses an estimated $9.3 billion annually from its economy due to breakdowns in child care, with an estimated $1.8 billion lost in annual tax revenue alone 

More than 15 million US workers have quit their jobs since April 2021, and 45% percent of those surveyed said needing to take care of family was a key factor in their decision. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the need for family-friendly workplace policies that support families, help businesses attract and retain top talent, and keep our region’s economic engine running has become even more important. 

We asked Judge Brown to share how the recent expansion of paid parental leave will positively impact both local families and our economy. Here’s what he had to say:

Travis County Judge Andy Brown speaking at a press conference
Travis County Judge Andy Brown speaking at a press conference after the unanimous vote to implement paid parental leave in Travis County.

What does being a family-friendly employer mean to you?

Being a family-friendly employer means helping create a Travis County that is a more equitable, resilient place to work, live, and play, and a place where our employees are able to bring themselves fully to the work place with a shared vision and goal of service to our community.

What led you to champion a paid leave policy for County employees?

It is a priority for our Court to make Travis County one of the most family-friendly communities, where all members of our community can thrive. Our County employees are our most valuable resource and they help ensure we can best meet the needs of our community. We know that many of them have been on the frontline as we respond to COVID-19. As is common for many essential workers, remote work was not an option for many of our staff. We want to recognize our team for going above and beyond during this trying time and ensure they feel supported to meet their needs at home as well as at work. We also want to lead by example. Travis County employs about 5,000 workers. We hope that other large employers will see this action and follow-us in supporting our community.

What impact do you hope providing family-friendly workplace policies will have on County employees?

Travis County is fortunate to have one of the highest employment rates in the country. As an employer, that means a very competitive job market where employees are able to demand better pay and more competitive benefits. Having a paid family leave policy will help Travis County continue to recruit the best and brightest in our community and make Travis County a more equitable, resilient place to work.

Thank you to Travis County Judge Andy Brown and Travis County Commissioners Jeffrey Travillion, Brigid Shea, Ann Howard, and Margaret Gómez unanimously supporting paid parental leave!  

Early Matters Greater Austin is part of United Way’s collective impact initiative – the Austin/Travis County Success By 6 Coalition which works to ensure that all children enter Kindergarten happy, healthy, and prepared to succeed in school and beyond. You can learn more about Early Matters Greater Austin and see a full list of local companies who have earned their Best Place for Working Parents® designation here

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