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Cleveland Clinic announces generous new parental leave policy for employees


As the Florida legislature prepares to consider two bills filed earlier this month that would make businesses give new parents three months of paid leave, Cleveland Clinic announced a similar companywide benefit for its employees who are having babies, including at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital.

Beginning in April, Cleveland Clinic employees will be eligible for fully paid maternity and paternity leave. New mothers will get eight weeks of maternity leave plus four weeks of parental leave; the other parent will get four weeks of parental leave.

“Paid family leave offers economic security and peace of mind to families during one of life’s most significant events. And it has a positive effect on the health and well-being of both the mother and the newborn,” said Cleveland Clinic CEO and president Tom Mihaljevic in announcing the paid leave benefits. “I am incredibly proud Cleveland Clinic can offer this benefit to our caregivers and their families.”

The policy covers same-sex couples, adoptive parents and surrogate parents, according to Mihaljevic, who was interviewed by

“Regardless of the way that one becomes a parent, the time spent with the child is of paramount importance,” he said.

 Mihaljevic cited Cleveland Clinic’s “responsibility to advocate for what is right,” and added that he hoped other organizations would “follow the path that we are charting.”

“Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital is excited about this benefit for eligible new parents. It is one more way to care for our caregivers, their families, and our youngest ones,” the Vero hospital said in a statement.

The news came on the heels of two major parental leave initiatives, one national and one at the state level. Last week, while the country was distracted by impeachment hearings, the U.S. House and Senate quietly passed the Federal Parental Leave Bill giving 12 weeks paid leave to federal government employees.

According to Forbes magazine, the new law, if signed by President Trump, would affect some 2 million federal workers, with the U.S. government the largest employer in the nation.

And in Tallahassee, two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, were filed this month to establish a three-month paid parental leave statewide. The proposed Florida Family Leave Act would apply to employers with 15 or more workers and would require that the employee have worked for a year and a half with the company. The bills will be debated in the upcoming legislative session and if passed, would take effect July 1, 2020.

Currently, new parents working at Cleveland Clinic Indian River can get time off, but it is unpaid, as mandated by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

To receive pay during their leave, employees must use available hours in their “paid time off bank.” They can also use short-term disability, according to a statement by the hospital.

The Family and Medical Leave Act, a major initiative of President Bill Clinton that was signed into law in 1993, applies to organizations with 50 or more employees, or about 60 percent of the workforce.

Currently in effect, it grants unpaid leave of 12 weeks to workers to be with a new baby, take care of a seriously ill family member, or to recover from an illness; 75 percent of workers use the leave for those last two categories, not for new babies. The law also guarantees that the employee’s job will be protected. Workers must have been employed by the entity for at least 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in those months.

Less than a fifth of U.S. workers are offered paid leave through their employers.

In Indian River County, of the six largest employers – the school district, Cleveland Clinic Indian River, the county government, Piper Aircraft, Publix and Walmart – only one offers paid parental leave at present. That one, Walmart, gives parents six weeks of paid leave, expanded from two weeks in 2018. In April, Cleveland Clinic will become the second large employer to offer the benefit.

The seventh largest employer, Sebastian River Medical Center, did not respond to queries, but online benefits listed for Steward Health, the hospital’s owner, did not include paid parental leave.

Andrea Berry of Healthy Start hopes other businesses take their cue from Cleveland Clinic.

“My hope is that the Cleveland Clinic sets the standard for parental leave on the Treasure Coast and all businesses follow suit,” said Berry. “Parenting is a job worth doing right.”

According to, a leading journal of health policy research, “studies on paid family leave in the U.S. and other developed countries indicate short- and long-term health benefits of leave taking for children and mothers ... [that include] a decreased incidence of low birthweight and preterm births, increased breast-feeding, reduced rates of hospitalizations among infants, improved maternal health ... and large reductions in infant mortality rates.”