Paid parental leave for state employees approved by Georgia House

Legislation giving nearly 250,000 Georgia state employees three weeks of paid parental leave passed the state House on Tuesday afternoon.

House Bill 1094 would allow new parents, regardless of gender, to take time off following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. Currently, state employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which employers must offer under federal law.

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The legislation does not impact private companies.

House leaders including Speaker David Ralston supported the bill, noting the legislature itself began offering the same amount of paid parental leave to its employees in January. Sponsor Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens, said the measure was in part to help keep talented workers in government jobs.

Gaines also cited President Donald Trump’s support for paid parental leave. The U.S. Congress passed a 12 week paid leave plan for federal employees in December.

Ralston said the House set a marker for the Senate with this measure.

"We've made very clear our priorities and put them in the budget and in legislation, and I'm hoping they will agree with them."

The bill now awaits a Senate vote.

AJC staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this story.

Georgia House leaders pushed back hard on Gov. Brian Kemp’s spending cuts Monday, backing a $28 billion budget that ignores many of his proposed reductions and slashes his plan for a $2,000 teacher pay raise in half.