First the actual news here: The Georgia House of Representatives has announced it will begin offering paid leave for employees who have children, including those who adopt or for foster care. The press release is as follows.
ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced a new paid family leave policy for employees of the Georgia House of Representatives. Effective January 1, 2020, this policy will provide for three weeks of paid leave to an employee who welcomes a new child into their family through birth, adoption or foster care.
“We are committed to a culture of life in Georgia and that includes giving children the best possible start as they are welcomed into their new families,” said Speaker Ralston. “This new policy will also be a valuable employee benefit to help us attract and retain the highest caliber staff to serve Georgia’s citizens. Many of Georgia’s top employers offer similar benefits, and we want to remain competitive in today’s job market.”
The paid leave policy will provide up to three weeks of paid leave upon the occasion of the birth or adoption of a child as well as foster care placement. Employees with at least 12 months of continuous service are eligible for this benefit, and this benefit is limited to once in any 12-month period. This benefit does not change the employee’s rights under any family or medical leave policy requirements and is in addition to any accrued annual or sick leave.
It’s the first words of the Speaker’s quote that telegraph the news here, as well as what is expected to come this January. “We are committed to a culture of life” will be something legislators will be eager to demonstrate with legislation, following up on administrative actions such as this that can be handled without 91 +29 votes.
A generation of legislators have built a Republican majority running on “pro-life” platforms. It remains national news that they passed, and Governor Kemp signed, the “heartbeat bill”, putting restrictions on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. These legislators plan to move the agenda now beyond being “pro-birth”, but taking a long look at child welfare in the state of Georgia and the many areas that need improvement.
Thus, this small move affecting relatively few state employees is worth a bit of attention. Consider it a move that is likely telegraphing more agenda items to come.