This week, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced an Executive Order to grant 12 weeks of paid family & medical leave to state employees within the executive branch. The policy allows workers to take leave for all purposes listed in the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), including caring for a new child or seriously-ill loved one, addressing needs related to the military deployment of a family member, and recovering from a serious illness of one’s own. This groundbreaking policy will go into effect March 1, 2020, making Tennessee the first state to enact such a generous paid leave program for state employees. State lawmakers plan to introduce legislation to extend these benefits to all state employees.
“A Better Balance applauds Governor Bill Lee for his groundbreaking plan to enact paid family & medical leave for state employees,” said Elizabeth Gedmark, ABB Vice President. “This proposal is a great first step towards ensuring all Tennesseans have access to paid leave in order to care for a new child, a family member with a serious illness or disability, or for their own medical needs. As in previous years, we plan to work closely with bill sponsors to introduce a comprehensive paid family & medical leave bill that would cover all workers in Tennessee. We look forward to working with the Governor and legislators on this critically important issue.”
Since 2015, we’ve worked closely with advocates and lawmakers to push for a comprehensive paid family & medical leave program in Tennessee. On January 8, we joined State Representative Gloria Johnson in Knoxville to announce the Tennessee Family Insurance Act, a bill to grant paid family and medical leave to all workers in the state. Under this proposal, employees would contribute a small amount each month to a paid family and medical leave insurance fund.
“No one in Tennessee should have to make the impossible choice between caring for themselves or loved ones and maintaining their financial security,” said Representative Johnson. “We have an opportunity to lead on this issue and support Tennessee families without burdening employers.”
Families across the state are negatively impacted by the lack of paid family and medical leave. For example, after years of trying to start a family, Keith Britt’s wife gave birth to triplets last year. Without access to paid leave, she was forced to use up all her paid personal and sick days, and still returned to work much sooner than she had anticipated. Keith is speaking out in support of the Tennessee Family Insurance Act in the hopes that no other family will have to suffer what his did.