Guilford County government has been expanding pay and benefits for county employees like crazy for the last three years and now it has become the first county in North Carolina to be designated as a “Family Forward NC Certified Employer” – a certification established by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation’s Family Forward NC initiative.

 If you work for Guilford County, you get to spend a whole lot of time with your family while getting paid for it.

The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of employers “who offer family-friendly workplace benefits.”

Guilford County is the 14th employer in the Greensboro area to get the designation.

The Family Forward NC Employer Certification is meant to recognize employers that “implement policies and procedures promoting the well-being of both working families and their children.” In order to earn this certification, employers have to adopt “exemplary practices” in at least one of the following categories:

• Paid leave and fair wages

• Accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding employees

• Assistance with childcare

• Health and wellness benefits

• Scheduling practices

Guilford County has all those bases very well covered.

In September of 2023 – after many other pay increases and job perks that came before – the Guilford County Board of Commissioners approved new and expanded employee benefits.

Here’s a list, provided on the county’s webpage, of the changes last September that helped Guilford County earn the honor…

• Parental School Leave (Expanded Benefit). This increased the time available for parental leave to up to eight hours of paid leave per school year per child up to the age of 26.

• Tuition Reimbursement (Expanded Benefit).  This increased Guilford County’s tuition reimbursement yearly maximum to $1,800 per employee making the request.

• Vacation Leave Accrual (Modified Benefit).  Vacation accruals are now based on total years of service in the NC Local Government Employees’ Retirement System not just employment with Guilford County.

• Bereavement Leave (A New Benefit as of September 2023).  Full-time benefits-eligible employees get up to five days of paid leave.  (Part-time employees get some paid leave on a prorated basis following the death of immediate family members.)

• Caregiver Leave (New Benefit as of September 2023). This is up to eight weeks of paid leave for the care of a newborn, a child placed for adoption, foster care, or guardianship, or to provide care for a seriously injured child, spouse, or parent.

Even the most employee-friendly Board of Commissioners in the history of Guilford County was reluctant to add all these benefits last year after giving so much to the employees already.  The board refused to follow staff’s request to put the changes in the 2023-2024 budget, but met again in September after the budget was passed and finally approved the moves.

In one budget workshop last June, Commissioner Kay Cashion said, upon seeing the requests at the work session, “This is the difference between business and government. I think we need some more time to discuss this. On each one of those items, I’d like to see comparisons of what others do. If you’re off three months, who’s gonna work? This gives them eight weeks paid time-off guaranteed.”

Cashion also said, “I’m just sitting here thinking about a department that has two or three people in the department – and you’ve got somebody taking off three months. With all this other leave, I’m just wondering who will be working.”