Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order Thursday, extending paid parental leave to the nearly 56,000 employees at cabinet agencies, departments and boards or commissions under his authority.
Under the executive order, which takes effect Sept. 1, eligible employees who give birth give can take eight weeks paid leave at 100% of their salary. Partners would get four paid weeks.
"That means during this important bonding time our employees will no longer have to choose between their career and their child," Cooper told a crowd of cabinet secretaries, other state employees, and Democratic lawmakers gathered at the governor's mansion for the signing ceremony.
Cooper said the included agencies and departments could cover the projected $3.5 million cost of this measure out of their existing budgets.
He also encouraged officials at Council of State departments, which are not covered by this order, to offer similar leave to their employees.
"It'll help reduce gender inequality in our workplaces," Cooper said, referring to his executive order, "and it'll help attract a strong workforce to state government."
The governor also promoted Democratic efforts at the North Carolina General Assembly to legislate paid family leave for employees statewide. A bill filed by Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Caswell, Orange) that would require employers to fund paid family medical leave through payroll deductions is stuck in committee with no support from Republican leadership.