Archbishop Cupich, Chicago Archdiocese lead on paid parental leave

parental_leave_chart1 center for American progress

Chicago Archbishop leads the way on parental leave; will America follow suit? (Figure: Center for American Progress)

It’s good when our pastors preach the sanctity of life, the rights of workers and the priority of the family from the pulpit; it’s great when they demonstrate these values in their role as employers. In May, the Chicago Archdiocese drew national notice with an announcement that its 7,000 employees will be entitled to 3 months of paid parental leave on the birth of a child. The Chicago Tribune reported…

As the debate about paid parental leave in the U.S. gains steam, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich is rolling out a new parental leave policy for church employees to better reflect Roman Catholic teachings about family values. Effective July 1, the nation’s third-largest Catholic diocese will offer up to three months of fully paid parental leave to its 7,000 eligible employees — the most generous parental leave policy of any American Catholic diocese, experts say….

Clayton Sinyai of the Catholic Labor Network hailed the new policy as an example of Catholic social teaching in action. He said church personnel policies should be considered an opportunity to evangelize. “This is a way to show that we live by the social teaching that we urge on the world,” Sinyai said “It helps lay Catholics who are trying to discern the right path in their economic decisions to see the church setting an example of fidelity to Catholic social teaching in its labor practices.”

Margaret Bush, 30, a special education teacher at St. Andrew Catholic School in the Lakeview neighborhood, said she burst into tears of joy when she learned about the new policy. With a baby due in August, she had accrued only 26 sick days to put toward her leave…

The policy carries a significant cost but the costs should not be overestimated. If the average employee took two three-month paid leaves in the course of a 45-year working life, the policy would add approximately 1% to employment costs. We hope and pray that other Catholic institutions – and lay Catholic business leaders – take inspiration from the Archbishop’s example.

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