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Georgia House gives overwhelming support for more parental leave for state workers

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Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder
February 15, 2024

Georgia state workers who grow their families could have more time off to spend with their bundles of joy thanks to a bill sponsored by the powerful House speaker pro tem that passed the House Thursday 153 to 11.

Milton Republican Rep. Jan Jones’ House Bill 1010 would double the amount of parental leave new parents could take each year to 240 hours, or six weeks. The leave would be available to mothers or fathers, whether their addition is a newborn or an adoptee, as long as they’ve been employed for at least six months.

 House Speaker Jon Burns and GOP lawmakers touted a bill that would expand the state’s paid parental leave benefit to six weeks. The measure passed overwhelmingly in the House Thursday and now goes to the Senate. Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder

Parents could take the leave within 12 months of the birth or adoption, and they could split the time up if, for example, a parent needed to take time off if the baby needed a minor medical procedure sometime in the first year, Jones said.

“Two-thirds of Georgia state employees are female,” Jones said. “Georgia’s the largest employer within the state, and we compete primarily with medium and larger employers for a workforce that is primarily skilled or educated, and most of us have realized workforce participation is down, and particularly from women, and in no small part due to inflated higher childcare costs that we have today.”

Jones characterized the measure as a way to keep those skilled workers on the state payroll.

Members of both parties praised the bill.

“This is something that’s really important for the women of this state and really the children of this state,” said Rep. Lauren Daniel, a Locust Grove Republican. “The benefits are undeniable.”

Daniel, a mom of four, often brings her youngest son Zane along to House sessions strapped into his baby carrier, but she said most Georgia moms don’t have that perk.

 Rep. Lauren Daniel Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

“I’m able to take care of him in a way that is not traditional, but I hope by showing you guys this and showing business owners across the state that it is possible, it’s a good thing, It’s good for the moms. It’s good for babies. But when it comes to paternal leave, it is necessary. I’m glad that we’re increasing it.”

The Legislature instituted the current three-week leave policy in 2021. Most federal employees are eligible for 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

Rep. Jasmine Clark, a Lilburn Democrat who holds a PhD in microbiology called the bill a step in the right direction, but she said the first six to eight weeks after childbirth should be a time of physical recovery, in addition to bonding and establishing new routines.

“Three weeks was better than nothing, but it is still quite insufficient,” she said. “This bill we are voting on today gets us halfway to the gold standard of 12 weeks and at least better aligns with the new parents’ physical recovery needs. So I support this bill because I hope that it is a sign that 12 weeks paid leave currently available to federal workers is on the horizon.”

The bill will have until March 28 to also pass the Senate, after which Gov. Brian Kemp will decide whether to sign it into law.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.