Governor Bill Lee announced his support for legislation to provide Tennessee state employees with paid parental leave. A Better Balance looks forward to seeing the details of this much-needed policy to ensure that state workers can take the time they need to recover from childbirth and bond with a new child without sacrificing their income or savings.
Assuming a robust program, Governor Lee’s proposal would bring Tennessee in line with peer states across the region that have enacted similar programs for state employees in recent years, including Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. It would also make the state more competitive in recruiting and retaining employees, since many major private sector employers–including FedEx, Dollar General, First Horizon, and Pilot Flying J–already offer this important protection. This is especially critical as state agencies like the Department of Children’s Services struggle with staff shortages, and state government remains the only sector that has not fully recovered from the pandemic, according to UT’s Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research.
“Paid parental leave is a win-win for families, the state, and Tennessee’s overall economy,” said Feroza Freeland, Policy Manager of the Southern Office at A Better Balance. “Paid parental leave is proven to boost employee retention & morale, strengthen economic security for families, and promote better health outcomes for parents and children. We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Lee’s administration and lawmakers to learn more about the details and make this long-overdue policy a reality for Tennessee’s roughly 40,000 state employees and their families.”
Since the opening of A Better Balance’s regional Southern Office in Nashville in 2014, our organization has advocated for paid family & medical leave for all Tennessee families, so that no one has to make the impossible choice between caring for loved ones or earning a paycheck. Restricted access to reproductive healthcare has only added further urgency to the already pressing need for these protections for both birth and adoptive parents.