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Tennessee to offer state workers 12 weeks paid family leave

The requirement won't extend to private employers or local governments.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is introducing up to 12 weeks of annual paid family leave for state workers who are experiencing a variety of life events, including parental leave for the birth of a child, adoption or foster care, and care for a sick family member. 

The Republican's administration announced the plan Tuesday, saying it will help reduce turnover rates for state employees, help the state save on health care costs and won't cost the state additional money. 

“Strong families make for strong communities, and I am proud that Tennessee will lead the nation in supporting our employees,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “This is an impactful investment in the state workforce and will allow us to continue to attract and retain the best workforce possible.”

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Lee's office said this new policy confirms Tennessee state government’s position as a pro-family employer while also improving its ability to effectively serve taxpayers by reducing turnover rates for high-performing employees and reducing long-term state health care costs.

"While 69% of full-time working Americans believe that receiving paid parental leave is important when looking for a job, only 17% of employees across the U.S. have access to it. One additional month of paid family leave is associated with a 13% drop in infant mortality," a release from the governor's office said.

The requirement won't extend to private employers or local governments.

The governor's office said the new policy will go into effect on March 1 to provide sufficient time for the Department of Human Resources to draft policy guidance, train managers, and ensure accurate tracking of time and leave.