- Tennessee will provide paid family leave to its state employees starting March 1, Gov. Bill Lee has announced. The governor signed an executive order on Jan. 7 granting the popular benefit.
- Qualifying events will be consistent with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), according to the Governor's office.
- The requirement does not apply to private businesses.
It appears paid family leave is gaining traction in several ways. Last month, President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act that includes a provision that grants federal workers the right to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or placement of a child.
Some jurisdictions have gone even further and put into place leave for any reason. Earlier this year, Maine passed a law mandating paid leave for any purpose; the law takes effect Jan. 1, 2021. Workers in Maine will be entitled to one hour of paid leave to be used as they see fit from a single employer for every 40 hours worked. The law applies only to employers in the state with more than 10 employees employed for more than 120 days in any calendar year. Bernalillo County, in New Mexico, soon followed, passing an ordinance requiring employers to provide employees within the county with paid time off for any purpose starting on July 1, 2020. The ordinance covers full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary workers.
To help businesses "challenged by the growing patchwork of competing and inconsistent state plans" and benefit employees, influential CEOs, many of which already offer paid leave, have advocated for a nationwide paid parental leave policy. In letters sent to the president and Congress just a few days before President Trump signed the law giving federal workers paid leave for the birth or placement of a child, a group of CEOs urged action on federal laws that would make paid family leave available to most American workers.
As private companies compete for top talent, benefits could be a deciding factor, and studies have shown that employers can boost retention by offering such perks. Within states that have paid parental leave policies, 20% fewer women leave their jobs in the first year after having a baby, an Institute for Women's Policy Research study recently revealed. The reduction surges to 50% in the five years following a new child, according to a Jan. 3 release from the study's funder, March of Dimes. The study also found that without paid leave, 30% of women will leave the workforce within a year after a new child's arrival, and 20% won't return from leave in 10 or more years.