GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — A local lawmaker is sponsoring legislation that would let employers offer paid family leave insurance.
Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville) said the bill, which he is co-sponsoring with Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixon), would make Tennessee one of the first states in the country to make family leave insurance available.
It would let insurance companies offer paid family leave insurance that employers could voluntarily purchase for their employees. The insurance plans would supplement an employee’s income while caring for a newborn or newly-adopted child at home, according to Hawk.
Hawk says Tennessee is “on the front lines of being one of the first states to work on this legislation.”
“There’s not really a product that does this,” Hawk said.
Currently, employers can offer paid family leave, but Hawk said that can be expensive for the business. By offsetting those costs, paid family leave insurance could lead to more employers offering paid family leave. It could also prompt companies that already offer it to expand the number of paid family leave days offered.
The bill would let insurance companies offer family leave insurance in the state as soon as Jan. 1, 2024, but Hawk said it may not become available until insurance companies can offer it in other states too.
“There would probably have to be eight, nine, ten different states that would pass similar legislation that would give the insurance companies an economy of scale large enough to create a product like that, that allows them to scale it up over tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of families that are that are in this type of situation,” he said.
The Greene County lawmaker hopes the Jan. 1, 2024 date will give other states time to “catch up.” Similar legislation passed in Virginia last year.
Hawk believes the legislation has the momentum to make it through the General Assembly this legislative session.
“I feel confident my colleagues in Tennessee will feel comfortable with the legislation because it allows another way for us to help families and to help supplement income when they’re bringing children into the world,” Hawk said.
The House version of the bill passed through the Insurance Subcommittee last week and will go before the full Insurance Committee on Tuesday. The Senate version is scheduled to go before the Commerce and Labor Committee, also on Tuesday.