Several weeks ago, when Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a paid maternity leave bill for state employees, Arkansas Personnel Administrator Kay Barnhill couldn’t help thinking back to her own experience. When her children were born, she had to use up all of her sick and vacation hours to spend time with them. Paid maternity leave, she says somewhat wistfully, “would have been tremendous.”
Only 13 percent of private-sector workers have access to paid parental leave, and that number isn’t likely much higher for state and local government employees.