NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One Tennessee lawmaker wants to grant state employees 12 weeks of paid family leave. 

Democratic Sen. Jeff Yarbro of Nashville introduced SB0227, which would authorize 12 workweeks of paid family leave to “qualified state employees” during a 12-month period. 

According to Yarbro, the measure is a “win-win” for both employees and the state, as it would allow employees who “might otherwise drop out of the workforce” due to pregnancy or family health emergencies to remain employed while also offering them the flexibility they need to take care of their families. 

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Current state law provides for annual leave accrual for state employees, as well as sick leave accrual, but Yarbro’s bill would add the 12 workweeks of paid leave on top of any paid leave accrued. The bill would also define an “eligible employee” as either a part-time or full-time employee who has been working for the state for at least six months and works for offices such as—but not limited to—the Secretary of State’s office, Attorney General’s office, Treasurer’s office and more. 

Yarbro said he feels the bill is a good step forward in keeping the state competitive for recruitment purposes.  

“The state government is an employer like everyone else, and I think we all see how difficult it can be for the state to retain employees,” he said. “One thing it’s not doing is it’s not competing against the best businesses out there that are trying to be partners with their employees in helping them deal with family priorities.” 

Yarbro added he felt the bill should have bipartisan support, saying the state owed it to its employees. 

“Not only do we owe it to the people who work for the state, but, frankly, we owe it to the people of Tennessee to do a much better job of supporting families, and especially supporting mothers.” 

State law also provides for unpaid leave in compliance with the Family Medical Leave Act, a federal law granting 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to employees. 

If passed, the measure would take effect July 1. 

Hundreds of bills will be up for debate during the 113th General Assembly. Tennessee lawmakers shared their thoughts on some of the major issues up for discussion at this year’s legislative session.

What lawmakers had to say about: Abortion Ban Clarification | Marijuana Reform | Transgender Therapy and LGBTQ+ Rights | Dept. of Children’s Services | Education | Crime/Public Safety | More

You can also find daily coverage from the session here.