A Republican legislator has filed a bill to allow educators to take sick leave for the purposes of adoption. (file)
An Alabama lawmaker has filed a bill that would allow teachers to take sick leave when adopting a child.
Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, the sponsor of HB 103, said in a phone interview Monday it came out of conversations with an educator who was not able to use her sick days after adopting a newborn.
“The bill was intended to add clarity to some of the local school jurisdictions that were not treating adoptive children as the same, particularly infants, newborn children, and treating them the same as biological children,” he said.
Under existing law, education employees can take sick leave to care for a sick parent, spouse, child, foster child in care of the employee, sibling or a person with a close personal tie. Baker’s bill would expand that list to include a child for whom the employee has filed a petition for adoption, allowing them up to eight weeks of sick leave.
The bill would also allow an education employee to take sick leave to care for an adopted child under three years of age.
Baker said he wants to make sure that the children of educators are treated the same, whether biological or adopted.
A message seeking comment was left with the Alabama Education Association on Monday.
According to the Alabama State Department of Education, teachers can accumulate one day of sick leave per month.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows parent who have adopted a child to take 12 weeks of work leave.
Last year, the legislature passed the “Adoption Promotion Act,” sponsored by Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre. The law provided parents who adopted children 12 weeks of leave. Parents can also take two weeks of donated leave.
Jones, in a phone interview, said that his bill last year brought the state into federal compliance. He said that his bill received pushback last year because it was the first time paid leave had been allowed for a non-medical condition.
“To me, that didn’t matter,” he said. “I thought it was still worth doing.”
Jones also identified himself as a “pro-life legislator” in a “pro-life state.” He said part of that is incentivizing adoption and making it easier for people.
“So I think anything we can do to make it better and easier for folks, is a win-win for our state,” he said.
The Alabama Republican Party passed a resolution last summer to lower costs of adoption in the state.
The Alabama Legislature’s regular session will resume on March 21.
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