PA State workers will now get more paid parental leave, free counseling

15 February 2024- The Shapiro Administration announced new benefits available to Commonwealth employees, including expanded paid parental leave and bolstered work-life support through the Commonwealth’s State Employee Assistance Program (SEAP). The expanded benefits will help support a healthy work-life balance for Commonwealth employees and will help the Commonwealth continue to attract and recruit highly skilled and talented employees.

Expanded Paid Parental Leave

Eligible Commonwealth employees can take up to eight weeks of paid parental leave following the qualifying birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child that occurs on or after February 15, 2024, within six months of the qualifying event. This is an increase from the previous six weeks offered and is in addition to an employee’s annual and sick leave entitlements. The leave can be taken by either parent and will count towards their Family and Medical Leave entitlement.

“There are approximately 1,900 births, adoptions, and foster care placements among Commonwealth employees’ families every year,” said Office of Administration Secretary Neil Weaver. “Paid parental leave not only provides financial security and healthier outcomes during a joyful time in our workers’ lives, but also bolsters the Commonwealth’s hiring, recruitment, and retention efforts as we strive to be one of the top employers in the nation.”

Eleven states have passed paid family and medical leave laws, and the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act grants federal employees 12 weeks of paid leave following the birth or placement of a child. However, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data estimates that only 27 percent of workers in the private sector have access to paid family leave.

Enhanced Work-Life Support

The Shapiro Administration has also expanded the support services available through the SEAP in 2024 to help balance the demands of work and family. A healthy work-life balance can reduce stress and burnout among workers, while also providing physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. Commonwealth employees can now access a free concierge service that can find local resources for life’s daily challenges including child or elder care, home or vehicle repairs, pet needs, education and career support, managing health conditions, and more.

Another new benefit allows employees to enlist the services of a care manager to develop a plan of care or receive in-the-moment support as they care for loved ones, including help with coordinating transportation or meals, recommendations for home modifications to improve safety, help locating the best options for in-home care, and more. According to the AARP, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. workers are caregivers to adults or children due to age, disability, or special needs.

The SEAP program is available to all Commonwealth employees and their families and is a free benefit of working for the Commonwealth. Other services through SEAP include:

  • Access to no-cost, confidential counseling sessions;
  • Resources for improving mental health;
  • Recovering from substance misuse or addiction;
  • Navigating financial and legal matters, and more.

In 2023, the Shapiro Administration increased the number of free counseling sessions from four to six.