Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced Howard County Government has taken bold steps to further its investment in its employees with the launch of a new paid parental leave benefit, a new option to enroll in a 529 College Savings Plan and ability for all County employees, regardless of their benefit status, to elect to contribute towards a 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan.
As a father of two incredible daughters, a member of our workforce and an educator, I know first-hand the importance of taking care of your family, especially in the early years, the importance of investing and preparing now for the future and the value of a higher education to uplift ourselves and our next generation. The launch of these new benefits and changes to pre-existing ones help us recognize our employees and all they do to make Howard County the best place to live, work, play and thrive for all.
Howard County’s new paid parental leave benefit offers eligible full-time County employees up to 480 hours of paid parental leave that can be used within 12-months from the date of their child’s birth or the placement of a child with an employee for adoption or foster care. Eligible part-time employees will receive a maximum of 240 hours of paid parental leave during this same period. This benefit is available to any employee who has worked for the County for a year and has met required work hours outlined in the County’s program. Additionally, employees will not have to use their own annual, sick or personal leave balance before requesting paid parental leave. Previously, employees had to use their own leave or leave-without-pay when taking parental leave.
“Our new paid parental leave benefit supports families and the County workforce and helps us send the message to our valued employees that we value them, their families, and their futures,” added Ball.
As of January 1st, all Howard County employees can direct payroll contributions to a 529 College Savings Plan for themselves or a loved one, providing automatic and proactive savings toward education goals. Also, in Summer of last year, County Executive Ball directed the County to increase its employee tuition reimbursement rate from $1,500 to $2,500 per fiscal year.
Finally, all County employees, regardless of their benefit status, may now elect to contribute towards a voluntary 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan to save toward their retirement. A 457(b) plan is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan in which funds are withdrawn from an employee's income without being taxed and are only taxed upon withdrawal, which is typically at retirement, after the funds have had years to grow. The earlier you start saving, the easier it is to reach your goals.