Georgia Senate OKs paid parental leave for state employees

Measure returns to House for approval

The Georgia Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill that would grant three weeks of paid parental leave to 246,000 state employees, including teachers.

House Bill 146 now returns to the House, which is expected to clear the measure in the days ahead after approving an initial version in February on a 155-2 vote.

The Senate passed the legislation within moments after President Pro Tem Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, introduced it on the floor, a far different outcome from last year, when the bill died on the chamber’s doorstep.

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The measure would grant three weeks of paid leave to state employees — including 132,000 k-12 educators and 46,000 University System of Georgia staffers — following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.

Workers would be eligible for the benefit after six months of full-time employment, and it would be available to both new mothers and fathers.

Currently, state employees qualify for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the minimum required under federal law. When Georgians welcome a new child into their family, many workers cobble together vacation days, short-term disability and other leave if they’d like to take time off.

The legislation doesn’t affect private companies’ ability to set their own parental leave policies.