Business and Labor

Paid parental leave for school activities proposed

Parents would be given paid time off to attend a family member’s school-related activities under a bill heard by the Business and Labor Committee Feb. 5.

Sen. Lynne Walz
Sen. Lynne Walz

LB1213, introduced by Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, would require businesses with at least 15 employees to provide a minimum of 20 hours of paid annual leave for employees to participate in such activities, which could include parent-teacher conferences, volunteer and extracurricular activities and athletic competitions.

The bill also would apply to state government agencies and political subdivisions. It would not apply to the U.S. government, Indian tribes or tax exempt private membership clubs.

Walz said research indicates that parental involvement leads to reduced absenteeism, promotes better behavior and increases student achievement.

“[LB1213] is an investment in our state’s economy,” she said. “By supporting our students today, we are supporting our workforce of tomorrow.”

Elizabeth Turner spoke in support of the proposal, saying her career as a school psychologist has highlighted the importance of parental involvement.

“It is hard for children to look around and see other students who have someone special present, but they do not,” Turner said. “Doesn’t every child want to look up into the stands or among the crowd and see that one person who is there for them?”

Justin Hubly, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees, also testified in support. He said the bill would be beneficial for parents who are entering the workforce.

“For our new employees … they haven’t had time to earn their PTO or vacation time yet,” he said, “so those folks … don’t have any accrued leave to attend their child’s functions.”

Testifying in opposition to LB1213 was Ryan Mcintosh. Speaking on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business, Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a number of other business organizations, Mcintosh expressed concern about the impact the proposal would have on small businesses and employees who do not have children.

“While we are very mindful of the positive impact that the involvement of parents can have on their children, we do not believe that a one-size-fits-all approach [through] paid leave is the right answer,” he said.

The committee took no immediate action on LB1213.

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