Today, Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation to provide three weeks of paid parental leave for state employees, teachers, and certain school staff in Georgia. The bill was previously passed by the state legislature with strong bipartisan support. This policy is an exciting step forward and will ensure that Georgia’s public sector workers are able to take the time they need to care for a new child without sacrificing their economic security.
A Better Balance was proud to advocate for this important legislation alongside our partners on the ground in Georgia, including 9to5 Georgia and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia. This victory reflects growing bipartisan momentum around paid leave for public sector workers across the South. In 2021 alone, similar proposals have been considered in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Under Georgia’s new policy, which takes effect on July 1, 2021, eligible employees who are welcoming a new child to their family through birth, adoption, or foster placement will have access to up to three weeks of paid leave. Access to paid parental leave is especially critical for teachers and school staff, who play such a meaningful role in educating and caring for children in our communities, but are too often denied this important protection and are unable to take the time they need to care for their own families.
In addition, providing access to paid parental leave is one important way to advance gender and racial equity in Georgia, as the public sector workforce is disproportionately made up of women and people of color, both groups that are typically less likely to have access to paid leave. By ensuring that these individuals do not lose out on critical income while fulfilling their caregiving responsibilities, this policy will promote economic security for Georgia’s families.
While Georgia’s paid parental leave policy represents an important first step forward, much work remains to ensure comprehensive access to paid family and medical leave for all Georgia families. Three weeks is often too little time for parents to bond with and care for a new child. In addition, this policy does not extend paid leave to individuals who need time to care for a seriously-ill loved one, or to attend to their own serious medical needs. Finally, this legislation leaves out millions of workers in Georgia’s private sector who desperately need these protections as well. A Better Balance will continue working alongside advocates and policymakers to address these shortcomings and ensure that all hardworking Georgians are able to care for themselves and their loved ones without sacrificing their financial security.