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Utah company pioneers family-friendly workplace with family leave package

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LEHI — The U.S. is the only economically advanced country without a national paid family leave policy.

However, a Utah start-up is trying to offer a family leave package that’s highly competitive.

They’re leading the way in a movement to make the workplace more family-friendly.

“We had our first baby shower like a month ago,” said Geneal Jeffries, who lives in West Valley City.

She and her husband’s dream of having a baby is finally coming true on Thanksgiving.

With the excitement, though, the parents-to-be also feel anxiety.

“I’m scared out of my mind,” said Scott Jeffries, Geneal’s husband.

Working at Weave

Both work at Weave, a tech company in Lehi, that’s helping put their worries to rest.

The CEO, Brandon Rodman, had bad experiences with maternity and paternity leave — or lack of it — in the past.

“I said, ‘We’ve got to fix this,’” Rodman said. “I’ve got four kids, three of them are girls. So that’s part of it — thinking about what kind of future they can have. It also just makes sense to me.”

“Everyone was just floored,” Geneal Jeffries said. “I mean what other companies do you hear about do this?”

She will have three months paid maternity leave, and her husband will have six weeks of paid leave to help out. It’s on par with major tech companies like Facebook and Adobe.

Along with paid maternity and maternity leave, they also get diapers for a year along with meal services and cleaning services.

“I don’t even know what type of diapers to buy and they’re like, ‘Oh we’ll provide them.’ and I’m like, ‘Oh great. I don’t have to worry about it,’” Scott Jeffries said.

Family leave in Utah

Women make up nearly half of Utah’s labor force, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Utah has the highest birth rate in the nation. An estimated 50,000 women will give birth this year.

Advocates say paid maternity leave leads to healthier babies, greater maternal mental health, and better bonding between mother and baby.

“Hopefully, we are just one of the first to approve the benefits for employees,” Rodman said. “Hopefully a lot of other companies will follow suit.”

For the Jeffries, their company’s policy is great peace of mind.

“Knowing that everything is taken care of, not to worry, and that you can come back to work and just jump right back into things, it’s just an easy transition,” Geneal Jeffries said.

“There’s lots of things at the beginning that I don’t want to miss,” Scott Jeffries said. “I mean this is something we’ve been planning for a few years now.”

The Jeffries hope to cherish every moment and their company is helping them do exactly that.

A bill proposed in the 2018 Utah Legislature would provide six weeks of paid, job-protected leave to state employees for the birth or adoption of a child. While it didn’t pass, the bill’s sponsor is working on revisions for the 2019 Legislature.

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Heather Simonsen
Heather Simonsen is a five-time Emmy Award-winning enterprise reporter for KSL-TV. Her expertise is in health and medicine, drug addiction, science and research, family, human interest and social issues. She is the host and producer of KSL-TV’s Positively 50+ initiative.


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