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Best Week, Worst Week: JHU employees get paid parental leave; Md. to pay $1.6M for election officials’ mistake

bestworst-070817Johns Hopkins University employees who are planning to start or add to their families got some good news this week while state election officials were forced to come to the Board of Public Works hat-in-hand to fix a $1.6 million blunder.

Health care and higher education writer Tim Curtis reported Monday that employees of Johns Hopkins University will receive paid parental leave with a new policy that began July 1. Under the policy, full- and part-time employees who have been with the university for more than a year will receive four weeks of paid leave after a new child is born and mothers who give birth will receive an additional six weeks of recovery leave.

The leave policy applies to the university, though, not to the health system, which operates separately.

The university also increased the amount of reimbursement it can offer to families that pursue adoption of children younger than 12 from $5,000 to $15,000.

Graduate students and postdoctoral trainees with new children weren’t left out, either. They can now receive an eight-week accommodation without losing access to tuition benefits, grants, scholarships or stipends.

And while Hopkins is providing more money for its employees, the state had to shell out $1.6 million because state election officials underestimated the cost of maintaining Maryland’s voting system when taking bids for a contract.

Government affairs writer Bryan P. Sears reported Wednesday that the Board of Public Works voted 2-0 to cover the cost of four employees whose salaries were underestimated by roughly 3,000 hours. Comptroller Peter Franchot expressed concern over what he saw as a “400 percent increase” in the number of hours it would take to do the job, from 1,000 hours to 4,000 hours.

Election officials said the 1,000 figure was an attempt to have all the bidders provide a cost for their respective systems on an apples-to-apples basis. The error occurred when elections officials initially wrote their request and sought to have each bidder provide costs based on 1,000 hours instead of what it actually would take. Once the winning bid was selected, it was too late to amend the contract from 1,000 to 4,000 hours.

Franchot was not happy the state was forced to pay an extra $1.6 million, saying blunders such as this is what tears apart people’s confidence in local government.