STATEMENT: A Better Balance Applauds Mayor Cooper’s Plan to Expand Paid Family Leave to Cover Nashville Educators

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(Nashville, TN) This morning, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced a plan to provide the city’s public school employees with paid family leave to care for a new child or an ill family member. A Better Balance applauds this important step forward, which builds on the successful paid family leave policy for Metro Nashville government employees that our organization helped draft and enact in 2017.

“Nashville’s educators work hard to teach and care for our children, and now this plan will finally help to ensure they can care for their own loved ones without sacrificing their income or savings,” said Elizabeth Gedmark, Vice President of A Better Balance. “Mayor Cooper’s decision to expand Nashville’s current policy for Metro Government employees demonstrates that paid family leave is a win-win for families and our city. By supporting those with caregiving responsibilities, this policy is an important first step to help Nashville continue to recruit and retain the best and brightest educators.”

As a member of the former Mayor’s Council on Gender Equity, A Better Balance helped lead the campaign to enact the city’s current paid family leave policy, which provides Metro government employees with up to six weeks of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a family member who is ill. 

With this announcement, Nashville will join a growing list of Southern state and local governments that are expanding paid family leave for their employees. In 2021, Georgia enacted a paid parental leave policy for public school educators, as well as state and public university employees, who are welcoming a new child to the family. And in South Carolina, lawmakers recently approved a bill to provide paid parental leave for state employees, which is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Providing paid family leave is absolutely critical at a time when state and local governments are struggling to recruit and retain workers, and after millions of women nationwide were pushed out of the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, often due to a lack of support for caregiving needs. The pandemic has been particularly challenging for educators, and we applaud this new policy that will protect their economic security when they need time off to care for loved ones.

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