MERRILL - IT, finance, and administration manager Koleman Brenner works just three days a week at Church Mutual Insurance in Merrill.
On Mondays and Fridays, he's getting paid to stay home with his wife, daughter, and newborn son, William, who was born Jan. 22.
Thanks to a new program, his father has up to 30 days of paid leave to spend with the family, which he and his wife love.
"We were talking last night, and she just said, 'This benefit is so great, I'm so glad that you're going to be able to be home,'" Brenner said.
In his State of the Union speech, President Trump called for a national paid family leave program. His daughter, Ivanka, went to Capitol Hill to pitch it to senators this week.
But the idea at Church Mutual started years ago, with someone who doesn't even have kids yet.
"I thought, I have to fight for myself and I have to fight for the other mothers and fathers at this organization," said marketing consultant Liz Ott, who went straight to the top.
She asked president and CEO Rich Poirier to implement a paid parental leave program.
"Candidly, I brushed her off the first year," Poirier said.
Then, Ott came back with statistics and arguments.
"I thought, wow, that takes a lot of guts for a new college hire to approach the president of the company," Poirier said.
Ott eventually convinced Poirier and the board.
Starting Jan. 1, Church Mutual provides the paid leave benefit to employees, both mothers and fathers.
"I was really excited to see parental leave part of that, because this affects not only all of the mothers in our organization, but the fathers, too," Ott said. "I feel very proud that I was able to have an impact on all of these people here."
Poirier sees paid leave as the right thing to do, but also as a recruiting tool for potential employees.
"This is a huge benefit for those that are looking to start families or grow their families," he said. "It's really exciting to see a company like Church Mutual, that's located in central Wisconsin, start to offer benefits similar to some of these large companies."
Church Mutual needed to take action to recruit and retain young employees. Poirier said within five years, 40 percent of its workforce will be at retirement age.