The City Council is trying to figure out who is covered by Mayor de Blasio's new paid parental leave plan for non-union city employees, which went into effect in December 2015.

The Committee on Civil Service, Labor, and Economic Development held its first hearing on the parental leave policy on Tuesday, with testimony presented by Dawn Pinnock and Stella Shu from the Department of Administrative Citywide Services, Kenneth Godiner from the Office of Management and Budget, and Paul Rodriguez from the Office of the Mayor.

Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and I. Daneek Miller, who presided over the hearing, questioned the agency representatives about the leave plan's funding mechanism and how many city employees are actually taking advantage of the new policy. Roughly 20,000 non-union city employees are eligible for leave through the plan.

The leave policy, which was implemented through a personnel order, was designed to bolster already-existing options for family leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth or adoption of a child. Under the new de Blasio policy, covered employees are eligible for six weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child or during adoption or foster care proceedings.

Pinnock, deputy commissioner for human capital at DCAS, testified that between the time the order was signed in January and August 31, 164 employees across 35 city agencies have taken advantage of the leave benefit. The median number of days taken was 30 work days, or 6 weeks.

According to Pinnock, the benefit is revenue neutral. The city has spent $1.6 million on paid leave under the program as of August 31; this cost is supposed to be offset by the elimination of a .47 percent across-the-board salary increase originally scheduled for July 2017 and by lowering the cap on annual leave accruals from 27 to 25 days. The accrual cap is already in effect, but savings from the cap make up only a quarter of the cost of the leave program. The remaining 75 percent is being paid upfront by the city; it expects to break even when July 2017 rolls around.

"If the raise wasn't set to go into place until July 2017, the $1.6 million was actually a cost we spent right now," said Councilmember Dromm. "We have spent $1.6 million on paid family leave to date under this program? And we will continue to pay until such time as that raise is foregone in July 2017?"

Councilmember Inez Barron hit the city hard on the cuts. "So, from my understanding, we took from Peter to pay Paul?" she said. Barron asked whether employees had been given a say in the changes to their compensation and benefits. "Those were two days they've earned or expected. Did the employees agree to that?" she asked. She also suggested that the policy was forced upon the employees because of their non-union status.

Kenneth Godiner, deputy director for labor contract analysis, miscellaneous budget, and pension analysis at OMB, said the city had followed standard protocols when creating the new policy. "The decision was ours, whether we thought that was the best way to provide benefits," he said. "We make trades all the time."

Barron asked what the city is doing for employees who aren't new parents and therefore cannot use the leave. "It's no different than most bargaining agreements with unions," Godiner said. "Not everyone's going to use everything. We felt this was a better mixture of benefits."

In May, a group of managerial employees filed suit against the city challenging the cancellation of the wage increase. Godiner declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The city estimates that 5 percent of employees covered under the plan will use it each year. If that number exceeds 5 percent, the program will run a deficit. The 164 employees currently using these benefits account for only 1 percent of eligible employees.

The city’s 280,000 unionized employees are not covered by the personnel order. Like all benefits for unionized employees, paid parental leave has to be negotiated in collective bargaining, a process that Godiner said is in its preliminary stages.