by Nyamekye Daniel
A follow-up attempt by lawmakers to implement paid parental leave for Georgia state employees is on its way to Gov. Brian Kemp.
The measure allows state employees in Georgia to take three weeks of paid parental leave. The House agreed Monday, 153-8, to the Senate’s changes to House Bill 146 after it unanimously passed the Senate last week. A similar measure cleared the House in 2020.
Under HB 146, state 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. State agencies and school boards are able to dictate the policy rules.
The legislation cleared the Senate, 52-0, without debate Thursday before it was sent back to the House for concurrence. The House first passed the bill, 155-2, last month.
Communications director for House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, Kaleb McMichen, said in a tweet Monday the measure will affect 246,000 state employees and teachers and is a “big bipartisan win for Georgia families.”
“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,” Ralston said in a statement. “I commend Representative [Houston] 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 local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
New York, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington and the District of Columbia offer paid parental leave to state employees. 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.
Sponsors of the bill have said they plan to lengthen the leave in the future.
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Nyamekye Daniel is a regular contributor to The Center Square. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times.
Photo “Georgia Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.