Lee now to pursue family leave policy through legislation

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s effort to offer 12 weeks of paid leave to state workers to care for a new child or an ill family member will now be pursued through legislation rather than by executive order. The governor’s office said the change will allow employees from all three branches of government to benefit from the change.

“After consultation with legislative leaders, we feel the best course of action is to implement paid family leave via legislation rather than executive order,” Lee said in a statement. “We will propose legislation that is retroactive to March 1, 2020, so that no state employee is negatively impacted by this change in course.”

42 Responses to Lee now to pursue family leave policy through legislation

  • maryjbryson@yahoo.com says:

    I do not think it the sate’s responsibility to furnish paid leave to all State Employees for having a child or caring for a sick member of their family.

    Why should taxpayers be held accountable for a family who chooses to have a baby ; also every family has health problems and should take care of their family members. This is just another way to help people who have jobs and should be able to take care of their own.

    For example I had two children back in the day when insurance did not even pay for doctor or hospital.
    Grant them a leave of absent if they wish but the state does not own them a salary .


    • James White says:

      I agree with mary.

    • John says:

      How can you all be so stupid? If an employee takes FMLA, the money doesn’t to back to the taxpayers. It’s already budgeted for salaries. The employee stops getting paid and the money stays in the overall salary account for the department. The surplus is used every year to give “bonuses” and raises to Executive service employees a.k.a. commissioners, deputy commissioners, etc.

      Don’t comment on the state budget if you’re too dumb to understand it.

      • James White says:

        If the FMLA employee is getting paid to do a job but is not there, then someone else is doing the job and they are getting paid too. Yes, the tax payer is paying BOTH.

        • John says:

          The salary of the FMLA employee is spent regardless. The only thing this bill does is allow the employee to keep their budgeted salary instead of it going to bonuses for political appointees like Joe Carr.

          • James White says:

            I still agree with Mary. FLMA should not be offered in Government.

          • Perry Aubric says:

            By all means, James. Let’s do everything we can to punish anyone who wants to work in government. Anyone who works in government should never get a competitive salary, reasonable benefits, a raise of any kind. And then we should complain about the quality of government employees every chance we get.


            Your carping, relentlessly negative, tunnel-visioned mean-spiritedness should be an embarrassment to you.

          • James White says:

            Perry, it is not they quality so much as the quantity.

      • Lenny says:

        But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 1 Timothy 5:8

  • MARLE says:

    12 weeks to care for an ill family member????? Unlike a child which is relatively hard to produce on an annual basis I suppose you could have a “sick family member” each and every year @ 12 weeks leave per.

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    My question is simple…. does he also ally Lee Company employees the same benefit? I’d not, then he is a hypocrite fleecing the system. If he allows his own employees the same benefit, then shame on me. Can someone from Lee Company let me know, please?

    • Donna Locke says:

      I seriously doubt Bill Lee applies this policy to his own business. Does he?

      Eight weeks should be enough for a new baby. Ideally, a parent should quit his or her job, which would be better for the child unless the baby would be staying with a grandmother during the day. Sick family member? Twelve weeks is a lot. My husband couldn’t have left the principalship of his school for even two weeks. Not without some disaster happening. If I had left my job that long, I would have been replaced, and I wouldn’t have blamed them. If these state employees can leave their jobs for three months, maybe those jobs can be eliminated as unnecessary and a drain on tax dollars.

      • Cannoneer2 says:

        By that yardstick, all legislators can go.

        • Donna Locke says:

          Lifetime pensions and health insurance for a few years of a part-time job with big per diems and other perks is ridiculous. We should be at the point where we are doing lawmaking a different, conservative way.

          But back to my point above, if a state job can be spread out among co-workers without hiring a replacement, why does the job exist?

    • Cannoneer2 says:

      Is there one single Republican businessman in the Tennessee General Assembly that gives their part time employees a pension? Legislators get one! Is there a single Republican businessman in the General Assembly that provides their part time employees with access to a health care plan? Legislators have that. I don’t want to pay for that. Lavish perks seem to be fine unless they are provided for the little guy. You know, the ones that actually run state government year round. Except that the proposed benefit here isn’t all that lavish. Let the wailing continue..

  • RonG says:

    You mean our legislators have to consider something important instead of the nonsense they usually come up with?

  • Not Stuart Anderson says:

    I do think it the sate’s responsibility -and in the state’s best interest- to furnish paid leave to all State Employees for having a child or caring for a sick member of their family. Why? Easy. The state can’t compete on salary for skilled workers, so they must compete on benefits. Paid family leave is pretty much standard in the corporate world and in other developed nations. Better/happier employees = a more productive and loyal workforce, which is much less expensive in the long run.
    It is also fairer to do this via legislation rather than by Executive Order. This way ALL state employees will benefit. For example, originally, higher ed employees could not be covered. That’s unfair. A state employee is a state employee no matter what agency they work for.
    Saves money, looks good, and helps compete with better-paying jobs. What’s not to like here?

    • MARLE says:

      The state’s employees are not compensated only by their salary. Total compensation including retirement benefits and excellent health insurance need to be added and THEN we can assess whether employment as a government employee is competitive. This is especially true of teachers when considering weeks worked per yr.

      • John says:

        Retirement is not what it used to be. New employees would do much better at a private company with a higher salary and a 401k match. Sure, some old people are grandfather into the legacy plan, but it’s not available to any employee hired in the last decade. And salaries are still terrible.

        The state has “excellent health insurance”? Thats a myth.

        • MARLE says:

          It is excellent compared to most TN private employers. The comment was that we are having a hard time with retention.

          And as for retirement…..having a 401K that can lose half of its value as happened in 2008 with little recovery for years compared to having a guaranteed monthly check FOREVER that never decreases……many would opt for that. The mean 401K has $60K in it. Think you can live in retirement for 30 years on that?

        • MARLE says:

          I am all for giving state employees from this moment forward a salary and a 401K and a health plan that is the equivalent of the average offered in TN. Think any state employee would go for that? Let’s try it.

          And let’s make them able to be fired for no stated reason and with no severance pay to speak of. Let’s try that as well.

          If nothing else it would stop all the whining about being underpaid based on salary scale.

        • Cannoneer2 says:

          Still 30-40% behind, by my calculation.

      • Beatrice Shaw says:

        I’m a retired teacher, but still young enough to teach about 20 more years. Pay is so terrible that it just isn’t worth it. You may calculate our total weeks worked per year on paper, but we actually probably work 2700 hours a year and are paid for a fraction of that. Teaching never really stops…even at night at home.

      • Cannoneer2 says:

        When people start measuring teachers by weeks ” worked” per year, that’s my first clue that they don’t know what they are talking about.

        • MARLE says:

          I was a teacher. My mother was her state’s teacher of the year. Her only female sibling was a teacher and then a superintendent.

          If you are teaching 3 grade grammar there is no reason after about the 2d year that you need to revise lesson plans to any significant degree. No one stays up til midnight grading papers if you stayed at your desk in the classroom til about 5:30 or 6PM when other white collar workers (not state employees of course) are finally leaving work. And don’t you have free periods during the day. I know I did.

          • Cannoneer2 says:

            My mindset with that statement concerned teaching things like 12th grade physics and chemistry. Lesson plans and classroom presentation had better change each and every year.

          • MARLE says:

            BUT….teachers unions representing teachers have ensured that regardless of whether the curriculum you teach requires very little daily prep or tons of it you are both compensated, not on what you do, but on your years in the classroom and what degree you hold. How nuts is that!

            But that is what you folks want so it is what you get. And taxpayers do not need to over compensate the 3d grade teacher b/c the 12 AP physics teacher works harder. You have created this inequity and it is not the taxpayers duty to open his wallet to fix this.

          • Cannoneer2 says:

            I agree. Teachers should be paid differently based on subject and grade level as well as years of experience and degree level (M.S., Ph.D, M.A., etc.) My high school chemistry teacher had a degree in engineering physics.

          • Donna Locke says:

            That reminds me–my high school physics and chemistry teacher blew our minds every day and then went to work for NASA. Big loss for the school and the kids who followed us.

            Most of the teachers I knew worked extra jobs at the schools, minding bus room till 4:30 p.m. or so for second or third busload, or coaching or doing something at night at the sports or other events. Many taught summer school. The men, especially, were picking up extra pay everywhere they could in the school system. There was little time off.

            When my husband started teaching with a master’s degree, he couldn’t afford a telephone. When I stayed home with the babies, he stressed over our house payment, which was two hundred and something dollars a month. He was a principal by then. A long time ago, to be sure, but proportionally still relevant for many.

          • MARLE says:

            Why on earth should a 3d grade math teacher need a PhD? And why should taxpayers compensate that teacher based on a degree that is unnecessary?

            Most people “in the real world” move up in pay b/c they are handling progressively more difficult or comprehensive job responsibilities. Teachers can start teaching 3d grade and keep teaching 3d grade for 30 consecutive years getting paid more and more for doing exactly the same job…but now having 30 yrs experience (which in my opinion has a early plateau of benefit) and a PhD.

            Again, to me as a former teacher and from a family of teachers, this makes positively no sense. And I might add that when I was teaching there were no teacher’s aides in the classroom to lighten the load.

    • James White says:

      No. But if you are right, then we tax payers, that make less and have less benefits should give our masters 24 weeks, or 36 weeks

  • Beatrice Shaw says:

    This is proof we must have free insurance. There is MORE than enough money for free healthcare. Think of the money we could save by not paying for medical issues and spending that money to grow businesses.


  • Beatrice Shaw says:

    YOUR interpretation of the constitution and mine are way different, James. That document is over 200 years old. they didn’t have cell phones and cars and electricity needs to be updated to reflect Americans and their needs today

    • MARLE says:

      People had health issues 200 years ago and yet we did not provide for a right to health care. The government does not exist, or should not exist, to do for you what you are capable of doing for yourself especially when they do it with other people’s money.

      If you Want other people’s money get a tin can and go around the neighborhood asking for handouts. Don’t hire a politician to do the work for you.

  • James White says:

    The constitution is fine and does not need updated (except to remove amendment 16 and 17) .
    Congress is defined specific powers and health care is NOT on the list.
    The fix is to Follow the constitution.

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