By Bryan Lowry

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced Monday that state workers for executive branch agencies will now be able to receive paid leave when they have a child.

Under the policy, executive branch employees will be eligible for six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child if they are the primary caregivers or three weeks of paid leave if they are the secondary caregivers.

"Both Sheena and I are working parents, and we know how hard it is to balance work and parenting," said Greitens, who announced the policy with his wife, a political science professor, on Facebook.

Greitens said that he encouraged the legislative and judicial branches to adopt similar policies, touting research that shows a link between infant health and parental leave. Bills to give all state employees paid family leave were introduced before the session, but have yet to advance.

"Before today, a state employee who gave birth to or adopted a child would have to use sick time, vacation time, or take unpaid leave," Greitens said. "And yet, everything we know about that crucial period after a child arrives in the home argues for giving parents time with their new children."

Only 12 percent of private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employers, according to a 2015 fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Labor.

(c)2017 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)