Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's plan offers 12 weeks of paid family leave to 38,000 state employees

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a roundtable discussion during a visit to Gestamp Inc. on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. This was Gov. Lee's first visit to Chattanoga as Governor of Tennessee.

NASHVILLE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday announced a first-of-its-kind paid family and medical leave policy offering up to 12 weeks off for Tennessee state executive branch workers facing major events.

It will allow employees across most state departments to take time off in order to care for a new baby after birth or adoption, as well as starting foster care or providing care to a sick family member.

"Strong families make for strong communities, and I am proud that Tennessee will lead the nation in supporting our employees," the Republican governor said after issuing an executive order. "This is an impactful investment in the state workforce and will allow us to continue to attract and retain the best workforce possible."

Saying that Tennessee "should be a leader," the governor said, "one of my most important jobs is to create an environment that allows those employees and their families to thrive."

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