Nebraska parents could get paid time off to attend parent-teacher conferences, or to attend a school sporting event, under legislation currently pending in the state legislature.

Legislative Bill 1213, sponsored by Sen. Lynne Walz, D-Fremont, would require businesses with 15 employees or more to offer 20 hours of paid leave a year for employees to participate in school related activities, according to the Unicameral Update.

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Walz told the Business and Labor Committee on Monday research shows increased parental involvement equates to fewer absences, better behavior, and higher student achievement.

The legislation, she said, “is an investment in our state’s economy.”

“By supporting our students today, we are supporting our workforce tomorrow,” Walz said.

School psychologist Elizabeth Turner spoke to the impact parental involvement has on individual students.

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“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?”

A fiscal note for LB 1213 shows it would cost taxpayers up to $9.7 million per year, if all eligible state employees used the full 20 hours of paid leave every year, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

Justin Hubly, executive director for the Nebraska Association of Public Employees, noted the bill would be especially beneficial for employees who “haven’t had time to earn their PTO or vacation time yet.”

“So those folks don’t have any accrued leave to attend their child’s functions,” Hubly said.

Ryan Mcintosh opposed the bill on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other business groups, KLIN reports.

“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 bill would also increase the burden on workers who don’t have children, and would increase costs for small businesses that would need to hire replacements for workers on leave, Mcintosh said.

LB 1213 comes alongside other efforts to expand paid leave in Nebraska, which also include Legislative Bill 1139 to establish a family and medical leave insurance program, and an initiative campaign to require employers to offer paid sick leave.

The business committee took no action on LB 1213 last week.

The most recent data through September shows only a relatively small number of states require employers provide leave for parents and guardians to attend their children’s school-related activities. They include California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, according to SHRM.

A summary of many of those policies by Littler shows they vary widely.

In California, employers with 25 or more employees are required to provide up to 40 hours of leave per school year, while it’s 8 hours for companies with 50 or more employees in Illinois, and four hours in North Carolina.