TULSA, Okla. – The Osage Casino is joining the ranks of other business and government employers offering paid maternity and paternity leave for its employees.
Casino management officials announced human resources policy changes on Oct. 21, which includes offering up to four weeks of paid maternity leave for expectant mothers and two weeks of paid paternity leave for the fathers-to-be. The policy changes received approval from the ON Gaming Enterprise Board.
Gaming board member John “Trey” Goldesberry said the Nation’s casinos are now “going to be leaders in this market” and industry by offering the paid time off for expecting parents after hearing about the policy changes from casino management during a board meeting.
“A lot of companies don’t offer any sort of paid maternity or paternity leave,” said Osage Casino Human Resources Director Kyle Revard, who added the policy change means expectant parents won’t have to start using paid-time-off hours to be paid while tending to their newborn family members, which was the former casino policy.
The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows people to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected time off in a one-year period for several life events including the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However the FMLA law does not mandate paid time off, meaning affected employees must spend their accrued PTO hours to receive a paycheck while taking on the newer parenting duties and bonding time. That leaves decisions on paid maternity/ paternity leave benefits up to employers.
The Osage Nation government is also among those entities offering paid maternity and paternity leave for government employees. The ON policy change is reflected in the Nation’s employee handbook updated earlier this year by the ON Human Resources Department and Executive Branch.
According to the revised ON employee handbook, the Nation will provide expecting mothers 80 hours (two weeks) of paid maternity leave pending receipt of the attending doctor’s note stating the parent-employee cannot perform duties safely and efficiently and/or is adversely affected by the pregnancy.
For ON employees who are expecting fathers, they are allowed up to 16 hours (two workdays) of paternity leave. When the pregnancy pre-exists employment with the Nation, the expecting father-employee may receive up to seven days of unpaid leave. Otherwise FMLA can apply if the pregnancy occurred during his employment with the Nation.
In previous years, the ON government’s policy on maternity leave also required new mothers-employees to use PTO to receive a paycheck while taking FMLA to recover and bond with their new child(ren).
Osage Casino CEO Byron Bighorse noted other bigger companies, especially Fortune 500 companies, offer similar paid maternity and paternity leave benefits, but he is still pleased the Nation’s casinos are moving forward in the same direction as well.
Paid time off for parents varies from employer to employer. According to a CNN Money article for example, global hotelier Hilton will start offering new moms working for the chain up to 10 weeks (two months) of paid maternity leave starting next year and expecting fathers who are employees will receive two weeks of paternity leave.