‘This is the day the Lord has made’: City HR director celebrates along with Mayor Turner after parental leave policy passes in Houston City Council

Jane E. Cheeks, HR director for the City of Houston speaks with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner following the unanimous vote for parental leave for city employees.

HOUSTON – Jane E. Cheeks celebrated the unanimous vote for the paid parental leave policy for Houston employees with this: “This is the day the Lord has made. We need to rejoice and be glad in it.”

“Nobody knows how I feel right now. I am a 22-year employee of the City of Houston and I know firsthand what this means to our employees. I want to tell you that. ... Mayor thank you for your faith in me and my team. We accomplished a lot with a lot of people.”

Cheeks appeared to hold back tears following the vote that aims to enact the policy on May 14.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the policy is “just the right thing to do,” and said that he hopes other city components like HoustonFirst and those in the private sector will follow suit so “everyone will be on the same page.”

“It’s not just good for city employees, it’s good for employees period, whether you’re in the public sector, the private sector or nonprofits,” Turner said. “I hope it will (expand).”

Under the new policy, eligible employees would receive time off for health care appointments and other things related to pregnancy, along with days after birth and wellness appointment leave during the child’s first year. Employees will get a maximum of 160 hours of prenatal leave and 40 hours of infant wellness leave, starting May 14, along with 320 hours of parental leave. Starting September of next year, that number would jump to 480 hours.

Watch the full remarks in the video player above as soon as the video can be processed.

RELATED: Houston City Council set to vote on paid parental leave

Here’s more on the policy from KPRC 2′s Zach Lashway.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.