In an exciting victory for working families, the Georgia Family Care Act was signed into law by Governor Deal on May 8, 2017, after passing the Georgia Legislature on March 23, 2017 with strong bipartisan support. This important bill was shepherded through the legislature by a coalition of more than thirty local and statewide organizations as part of the Georgia JobFamily Collaborative. The Family Care Act permits workers in Georgia who receive paid sick days to use that time to care for their family members in addition to themselves. This victory is a powerful example of the strength of strategic, persistent advocacy, showing that victories in support of working families are possible—even in a Southern state like Georgia where worker protections are often difficult to come by.
Nationally, almost a quarter of all workers have lost a job or been threatened with losing a job for taking time off to care for a personal or family illness. According to one survey, one-third of parents of young children are concerned about loss of pay or a job when taking off work to care for their sick children. In Georgia alone, well over 800,000 workers did not have access to a single day of paid sick time for family care, forcing many workers to choose between an essential paycheck and caring for their loved one. By passing the Georgia Family Care Act, the Georgia Legislature voted in favor of a small change that will make a big difference to hundreds of thousands of families throughout the state.
This law is an important first step in helping working families, though more is needed. A Better Balance provided support to advocates in the campaign’s early years and was recently instrumental in working with the coalition on expanding the bill’s family definition to include tax dependents, in addition to children, spouses, grandchildren, grandparents, or parents. A Better Balance is eager to continue supporting this successful coalition as it continues to push for family-friendly and flexible workplace policies for all working families in Georgia. We are excited for this victory and hope that it will inspire advocates and legislatures in other states around the country to push for policies that support workers while promoting the value of caring for loved ones.