State agencies opt out of Cooper's order promising paid parental leave

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Nearly 59,000 state employees will become eligible for up to eight weeks of paid parental leave on September 1. It is part of Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order but several state agencies are opting out, denying the benefit to their employees.

The Department of Labor and the Office of State Treasurer have both opted out while the Department of Insurance, State Education Lottery, the Community College System Office and the UNC System Office are still evaluating the option.

"It shouldn't matter whether you work in the department of public instruction or department of labor. State employees absent a reasonable justification should receive the same level of benefit," said Jessica Holmes, Chairwoman Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Holmes was outspoken about the NCDOL's decision, she spoke with ABC11 about her concerns.

"Many local governments across North Carolina including Wake County have passed paid-parental-leave policies and we expect state leaders to follow suit," Holmes said.

ABC11 questioned state leaders on the matter. We found out that the directive is mandatory for state agencies under the governor's oversight, but the NCDOL isn't one of them. The Department of Human Resources sent the following statement.

"Per Executive Order 95, state departments, agencies, boards or commissions under the Governor's oversight must offer Paid Parental Leave. In section 7d of the Executive Order, state entities not subject to the Governor's oversight are encouraged, but not required to comply with the Executive Order," Elain Darby, NCDHR.

Still, that wasn't the reason it gave as to why it opted out of paid parental leave. The NCDOL sent ABC11 the following statement:

"The NCDOL opted out because the commissioner simply feels that there are sufficient leave programs already available to state employees to address such absences," Delores Quesenberry, Director Communications, NCDOL.

The governor's executive order offers up to eight weeks of paid leave. Agencies that have opted out can later opt-in.
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.