(Bloomberg) -- Chicago expanded its parental leave policy for city employees to 12 weeks fully paid, at least double what it was previously.

Under the new guidelines, leave will apply to all new parents, including those who adopt or foster a child, regardless of gender, according to a statement Friday. An earlier policy provided four to six weeks of paid leave for birth parents, and two weeks for non-birth parents.

The leave plan, which will take effect Jan. 1, is available to employees who have worked for the city for at least 12 months. It will apply to about 32,000 workers, according to the statement.

“I call on my colleagues in the private sector to join me in offering this critical benefit, which undeniably builds equity within our workforce,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in the statement.

The US is one of only seven countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave to workers. As of 2021, just 26% of state and local government workers had access to paid family leave benefits, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who work for the federal government are entitled to 12 weeks of paid parental leave under a policy that began in 2020.

Some cities are updating their leave policies: In July, Phoenix said it would provide 12 weeks of paid leave to new parents that work for the city, while Minneapolis’s city council approved a similar benefit last month. Los Angeles City Council last year approved an ordinance for up to six weeks paid parental leave to all civilian city employees.

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