KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In a November commissions meeting, Knox County's Human Resource Department introduced a new policy to the Family Medical Leave Act.
The new policy, which applies to both births and adoptions/placements, will compensate for up to eight weeks at the full and regular pay rate.
If Knox County employs both parents, they can split the time and each take four weeks or give the full eight weeks to one parent, according to the county.
The previous policy allowed for a maximum of 16 weeks of unpaid maternity/ adoption leave. Twelve weeks were covered under FMLA and the last four weeks fell under the Tennessee Maternity and Adoption Care Leave Law.
"This policy change is an investment in the health and well-being of our workforce. That, in turn, will offer significantly better outcomes for productivity and performance, reduce absenteeism, and decrease burnout and turnover. It’s a great way to support the people already working here and be more competitive in the recruitment of new team members," said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.
Senior Director of Human Resources and Benefits Department Stephanie Candler said that this is an important time for new parents to bond with an infant or the adopted/placed foster child, adjust to changing family dynamics and get the appropriate follow-up medical care while minimizing the financial impact.
Candler also noted there are various studies that show positive impacts surrounding maternity leave like a lower risk of postpartum depression and anxiety, improved child brain development and healthier family dynamics and bonding.
The new policy applies to departments that fall under the Knox County mayor's handbook and other offices that adopt the policy.