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New research by ThinkTennessee and A Better Balance finds that paid family leave improves families’ health and economic security while boosting productivity, retention for employers

NASHVILLE, TN – A growing number of institutions are moving in the direction of offering paid family leave for their employees to care for new children, finds a new research brief released today by ThinkTennessee and A Better Balance.

Tennessee state employees do not currently have dedicated paid family leave. Those who are expecting a child either through birth or adoption must choose between using paid vacation time, sick days, or taking unpaid leave.

“In the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of states and employers adopting paid family leave policies,” said Erin Hafkenschiel, president of ThinkTennessee. “And the data proves why: Paid family leave benefits families, businesses, and the broader society by keeping caregivers, particularly women, healthy and financially secure.”

According to the numerous studies cited in the brief, paid family leave is associated with improved mental and physical health, increased employee retention and morale, and stronger labor force participation.

Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah have enacted paid parental leave for state employees with strong bipartisan support in the past two years. In 2019, President Trump also signed into law a 12-week paid leave policy for federal government employees to care for a new child.

Governor Lee proposed a paid family leave program for state employees in his 2023 State of the State address, though the measure needs legislative approval before it can be implemented.

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