OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – During the special session, the Oklahoma Senate has passed a measure that would provide paid maternity leave for state employees.

Senate Bill 16X would provide six weeks of paid maternity leave for Oklahoma’s full-time state employees following the birth or adoption of a child.

“Women are leaving the workforce at alarming rates across the country, and this is just one more incentive to help recruit and retain highly qualified employees to state agencies, so we can improve government efficiency,” Sen. Jessica Garvin said. “State employees are drastically underpaid compared to the private sector. I know there are a lot of private sector employees who are already receiving this benefit, so this will help the state be more competitive.”

The benefit would be available to state employees who have been on the job for at least two years.

“As a Republican, we always talk about being pro-life, and this is part of that. We’ve got to support families during and after birth,” Garvin said. “We need to surround them and provide all the support and assistance we can, especially for women who suffer from things like postpartum depression. Those six weeks at home with the baby are imperative to the long-term health of the child and mom, and I’m extremely grateful for the Senate’s support of this important family and workforce development reform.”

SB 16X now goes to the House for consideration.

A previous measure, Senate Bill 193, failed to make its way through the legislative process.