In an exciting first step, Georgia will provide paid parental leave to state employees and teachers

Today, Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation providing three weeks of paid parental leave to 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 Georgia's public sector workers can 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 local partners in Georgia, including 9to5 Georgia and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia. This victory reflects growing bipartisan momentum on paid leave for public workers across the South. In 2021 alone, similar proposals were considered in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Under Georgia's new policy, effective July 1, 2021, eligible employees who welcome a new child into their family through birth, adoption, or foster care placement will have access to up to three weeks of paid leave. Access to paid parental leave is especially important for teachers and school staff, who play such an important role in educating and caring for children in our communities, but are too often denied these important protections and unable to take the time they need their own families need to provide care.

Additionally, providing access to paid parental leave is an important way to promote gender and racial equity in Georgia, as the public sector workforce is disproportionately made up of women and people of color, both groups that typically have less access to paid parental leave leave. By ensuring that these individuals do not miss out on important income while fulfilling their caring responsibilities, this policy will promote the economic security of Georgia's families.

While Georgia's paid family leave policy represents an important first step forward, there is still much work to be done to ensure full access to paid family and medical leave for all Georgia families. Three weeks is often not enough time for parents to bond with and care for their new child. In addition, this policy does not extend paid leave to individuals who need time to care for a seriously ill relative or to attend to their own serious medical needs. Finally, this legislation leaves out millions of workers in Georgia's private sector who also desperately need these protections. A Better Balance will continue to work with advocates and policymakers to address these shortcomings and ensure that all hard-working Georgians can provide for themselves and their loved ones without sacrificing their financial security.