A measure that will give state employees and teachers additional benefits received final passage this week and now awaits further action from Governor Kemp.
Sponsored by Representative Houston Gaines, House Bill 146 provides three weeks of paid parental leave to full-time employees, local boards of education, and teachers in Georgia.
Any employee or teacher will be eligible for the three weeks of paid leave upon the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child so long as the employee has six months of creditable service. There are no gender restrictions on the benefit and it can be used one time per 12 month period.
All of the parental leave benefit packages are independent of employees accrued leave or rights under any family medical leave policy.
This is not the first time Georgia has ever offered a paid parental leave benefit as Speaker Ralston announced a paid parental leave benefit for employees of the Georgia House of Representatives in July 2019. That benefit went into effect in January 2020 and the State Senate implemented a similar policy shortly after.
“This paid parental leave benefit speaks to our hardworking state employees and teachers and tells them that we value their contributions and the sacrifices they make to serve our citizens,” Speaker David Ralston said in a press release. “I commend Representative Gaines for taking the lead on this important initiative which demonstrates our unyielding commitment to families and giving children the best possible start in Georgia.”
The Speaker’s office said the new paid parental leave benefit will expand to 245,000 state employees and teachers.
“I am proud that this legislation received such overwhelming bipartisan support in the General Assembly,” said Rep. Houston Gaines. “We know this benefit will make a difference in the lives of young families across our state. This is a pro-family, pro-jobs bill that will set the right example in the nation’s #1 state for business.”
Co-sponsors of House Bill 146 included Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton), Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville), Rep. Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee) and Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn). House Bill 146 was carried in the State Senate by President Pro Tempore Butch Miller (R-Gainesville).
The initial version of the bill passed the House with two dissenting votes – Reps. Sherri Gilligan and Philip Singleton. It then passed unanimously, with some changes, in the Senate and attained final passed in the House with eight dissenting votes.
Governor Kemp has not commented on his position on the bill. You can read the bill here.