BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — On Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced all Louisiana state employees will receive paid parental leave for up to six weeks.

Edwards, along with the Louisiana State Civil Service, Woman’s Hospital, and other officials, announced a Governor’s Executive Order with a new Civil Service rule to provide six weeks of paid-in-full parental leave for classified and unclassified state employees.

“I’m thrilled to announce the adoption of paid parental leave for the nearly 70,000 state employees in Louisiana,” said Edwards. “Paid parental leave means better outcomes for every family member, allowing parents to bond with their child without the financial stress of sacrificing their income, savings or paid sick days. By joining the 32 other states with paid parental leave policies, we are positioning ourselves to both attract and retain top talent in the state. I believe this policy is pro-life, and I hope to see the legislature adopt it statewide in the near future. I’d like to thank State Civil Service, Representative Sam Jenkins, and Jackson Wright in my office for their hard work that made this possible.”

One mom says she no longer has to choose money over her health or her newborn.

“We didn’t have paid leave at the time. I had to make those hard decisions between why do I go to my medical checkup while I’m still pregnant with my son, or do I save that time for afterward for when he’s born because I need that time,” said Mia Orr White, Interim Director, Bureau of Community Partnerships and Health Equity.

Even though Louisiana is the 33rd state to offer paid leave for state employees, Governor Edwards says this is just one step in the right direction.

“We and the rest of the country have a long way to go in improving these outcomes for mothers and for children. One of the reasons we now have 12 months of postpartum care under the Medicaid program.” 

This new benefit is for both moms and dads.

“This is a great day for Louisiana and the tens of thousands of state employees who will be covered by this policy,” said Rep. Sam Jenkins. “The policy being implemented today will provide a very important benefit to state employees, and I appreciate the state taking the lead. With it, we are sending a signal to young families that we want to attract and retain them in Louisiana.”

State employees who are legal, adoptive or foster parents are eligible for a parental leave benefit of six weeks at 100% pay within 12 weeks of birth or placement for adoption or foster care, according to the governor’s office. After a year of working for the state, employees become eligible for the benefit, which reflects eligibility for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

“We know that paid parental leave is a good thing for our state government and that it’s going to be even better for the recruitment and retention of employees,” said State Civil Service Director Byron Decoteau. “This policy allows parents to focus on bonding with their child, strengthening and building their family unit without the financial worries that often come with unpaid leave.“

The benefit goes into effect January 1, 2024.