LITTLE ROCK – Gov. Asa Hutchinson today signed into law a bill to provide paid maternity leave to state workers. SB 125 was introduced by Senator Missy Irvin and Representative DeAnn Vaught. The bill provides for four weeks of paid maternity leave for state agency employees.
Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:
“I am pleased that the maternity leave bill passed through the legislature with bipartisan support. Mothers make up a significant portion of our state’s workforce and this bill will ensure that we retain their vital contributions, while also allowing them to take care of their new additions. A fair maternity leave policy is crucial to a state’s ability to retain valuable employees and I am pleased that this is now the law of the state.”
Senator Irvin issued the following statement:
“This is a monumental day for women, families and children in Arkansas. In passing Senate Bill 125 we are leading the nation on this important pro-family and pro-woman issue. Senate Bill 125 provides for paid maternity leave for our state employees for births and adoptions by utilizing hours donated by fellow employees without costing taxpayers a dime. It is by far, one of the smartest and most efficient laws we have passed.”
Representative Vaught issued the following statement:
“I love that we have finally found a way to help soon-to-be parents that work for state agencies here in Arkansas at no additional cost to taxpayers. Today is a great day for working mothers in our state. As a mother, I am honored to be able to carry legislation that will help our dedicated state employees as they become parents.”
Employees may now take up to four weeks of paid maternity leave within the first 12 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child. The program requires the employee to have been employed by the state for more than one year. The law does not require employees to exhaust sick or annual leave prior to being awarded catastrophic leave for maternity purposes.
Under the new law, all agency catastrophic leave banks will be eliminated and replaced with a single leave bank for all agencies that will be administered by the Office of Personnel Management.
It is important to note that the state’s maternity leave program will operate with no additional cost to taxpayers because the hours donated to the catastrophic leave bank are already accounted for as an unfunded liability in the state budget.