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Kemp approves paid parental leave for state workers in Georgia

By Nyamekye Daniel

(The Center Square) – State workers will have three weeks of paid parental leave under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

Under House Bill 146, state government or local school board employees who worked at least 700 hours over the six months preceding the requested paid leave date can qualify for the paid time off after the birth of a child, adoption of a child or taking in of a foster child. Paid parental leave would be granted only once a calendar year.

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“From day one of this administration, we have taken action to make employment and state government safer and more welcoming for all Georgians,” Kemp said during a bill signing ceremony at the state Capitol. “By signing HB 146, we are continuing to prioritize the people who keep our community safe, inspect our gasoline, coordinate adoptions and help your business start and operate.”

Officials said the measure would affect 246,000 state employees and teachers in the state. State agencies will be responsible for the policy guidelines.

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Congress passed the Federal Employees Paid Leave Act in 2019. It gave federal government employees up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, starting in October 2020. New York, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington and the District of Columbia also offer paid parental leave to state employees. 

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Sponsors of HB 146 have said they plan to lengthen the leave in the future.

The new law comes as health officials announced record low birth rates in the nation. U.S. births fell for the sixth consecutive year in 2020. The rate is at the lowest level it has been since 1979, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

“I think about those who are starting families like my sister, Adrian, who’s here today. She came over with us from Athens. She and her husband, Matt, are about to have their first baby, and I’m about to be an uncle, which I’m really excited about,” said Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens, one of the bill’s sponsors. “While she isn’t a state employee. She’s been fortunate to have a private employer offering paid leave. I think about young women like her, who are starting families, state employees and teachers who this measure will help.”

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