Maternity leave policy reviewed in Prairie Twp.


By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

The Prairie Township trustees are considering providing township employees with maternity leave thanks to conversation sparked by a generous donation.

At a recent board meeting, Prairie Township Community Center Director James Gant donated 80 hours of vacation time to one of his employees.

“Prairie Township currently doesn’t have a maternity leave policy,” Gant said. “I asked the trustees if I could donate time to a fitness supervisor at the center and that sparked a conversation about reevaluating this.”

Currently employees who are on maternity leave must use their vacation and sick time. After all those items are used up, they can remain on maternity leave, but are unpaid.

Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said this is the first time someone has donated vacation time to another for maternity leave and has made the trustees look into if they should have some paid leave for expecting employees.

“We are thinking about adopting a policy for maternity leave,” Hatmaker said. “Trustee Ron Ball has said he is interested in looking into this further.”

Gant said he strongly supports creating this, saying that it is important that new parents have an opportunity to bond with their new addition, while not worrying about how they will pay their bills while off work.

“I think it is really important for people with new families to have that time to adjust and spend time together,” Gant said. “While work is important, family is the most important thing there is. This new policy would really instill this message.”

Township officials would have to make sure the new policy is fair to everyone and financially sound.

“We are stewards of taxpayers’ dollars, so we have to be mindful of costs,” Hatmaker said. “That being said, policies like this would help us continue to retain good quality people and would reinforce that we are family-friendly.”

Besides discussing maternity leave at the meeting, Gant also gave an update on the upcoming holiday activities the center will be hosting.

The township will have a mailbox for children to mail their letters to Santa. Gant said local seniors from the Prairie Township Senior Center will also get in on the holiday fun by writing the children back on behalf of Santa.

“We also will be starting our elf on the shelf contest with area businesses,” Gant said. “Children who find the elves and get signatures at all participating businesses will be entered into a raffle to win a bicycle.”

The bicycles will be given away during the tree lighting ceremony from 4 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the community center, 5955 W. Broad St. During the ceremony, the choir from Westland High School will perform, an ice carver will be giving live demonstrations and other arts and crafts activities will be taking place.

The center, which opened in the summer, already has reached over 3,000 members. Gant said he anticipates more people will join after the tree lighting ceremony. For more information, visit

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