Louisiana Teachers One Step Closer to Receiving Paid Parental Leave

Louisiana legislators approved a measure offering six weeks of paid parental leave to teachers, but concerns about the $15 million cost have arisen.

Senator Samuel Jenkins, D-Shreveport, introduced Senate Bill 426 that was unanimously endorsed by the Senate Education Committee, albeit with reservations from some members regarding its financial impact. Schools would still be responsible for compensating teachers on leave, but the state would reimburse the schools for hiring substitute teachers.

Senator Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, cautioned Senator Jenkins to address the expenses prior to the Senate Finance Committee review, a necessary step before it reaches the Senate floor.

Jenkins revised the bill in the education committee to reduce costs, yet the legislative fiscal analysis is pending. The revision now involves the state reimbursing local school systems for substitute teacher expenses during the leave period. Previously, the bill mandated state coverage for a teacher’s salary during parental leave.

The amendments could potentially reduce the bill’s expenditure by $11 million, depending on the calculation methodology of the Legislative Fiscal Office.

Substitute teachers earn between $60 and $100 daily based on the school system, experience, and duration of substitution. Louisiana teacher salaries average $56,175 annually for 182 working days.

The total pay for a teacher over six weeks amounts to approximately $9,000, while a substitute’s cost for the same period averages $2,400.

Sen. Jenkins’ proposal extends paid parental leave eligibility to teachers and staff, in conjunction with any accumulated sick or paid time off, after completing 12 months with a public school system.

The leave applies to childbirth, pregnancy loss, adoption, and foster care. Additionally, both parents can take leave if they meet the criteria.

The six-week leave can be utilized jointly or separately and can be scheduled flexibly within a year of the qualifying event. Employers cannot mandate the exhaustion of sick leave or paid time off before parental leave utilization, and employees will receive full salary or base pay.

Funds earmarked for school employee parental leave will undergo specific allocation. Any surplus at the fiscal year-end will be invested, with the accrued interest credited back to the fund.

Former Gov. John Bel Edwards implemented six weeks of paid parental leave for most unclassified state workers in 2023. Subsequently, three of the four higher education systems in the state adopted a similar policy for their employees.

Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Greg LaRose for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

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