Pregnancy & Family Leave Issues
AAUW's Quick Facts on Paid Family Leave and Paid Sick Days
AAUW's Know Your Rights: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
Webinar: New York’s Families Can’t Wait The Need for Paid Family Leave 2015 - Check out the video from the excellent webinar about Paid Family Leave on June 10 sponsored by A Better Balance. Lots of great information about how PFL would positively impact families with new babies.
It Shouldn't Be a Heavy Lift for Pregnant Workers - A report A Better Balance did with the National Women's Law Center highlighting the need for stronger legal protections 35 years after passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act - highlighting 8 stories from women across the country.
To learn more about the case for family leave insurance in the United States, see the A report A Better Balance September 2013 report, Investing in Our Families: The Case for Family Leave Insurance in New York and the Nation.
8 Things to Know About Paid Leave
Updated: July 29, 2015
- Paid Family Leave Supporters Look to 2016 - Supporters of paid family leave in New York say they hope 2016 will be their year, but business groups are urging caution. The Senate sponsor of a two house bill, Joseph Addabbo of Queens, says he thinks it's not a question of if the measure will pass, but when.
- Bill Could Allow Pregnant Single Women to Be Fired - The First Amendment Defense Act (H.R. 2802), which protects people and businesses who belive in "traditional marriage" from religious discrimination, was referred to committee this week. The bill was drafted as a conservative response to the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision, but its broad language could also include businesses being able to fire single women for being pregnant. The act states that, "sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage," permitting businesses to fire women who become pregnant outside of marriage if employers deem it "untraditional."
- Percentage of Currently Employed Adults Who Had Paid Sick Leave, by Industry - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that indicates disparities between women and men across various industries regarding access to paid sick days. The report reveals that women's access to paid sick days is greater in occupations where they are under-represented and lower in occupations where they are overrepresented.
- Company To Pay Record-Breaking Damages For Telling Pregnant Woman She Couldn't Do Her Job Anymore - The auto parts retailer AutoZone dropped its challenge to a verdict ordering it to pay a record-breaking $185 million in damages to a former employee who claimed she was demoted and fired for being pregnant.
- 30 Percent of Moms Can't Afford Diapers - Infants use about 240 diapers per month. A year's supply of diapers costs $936. That means a single mother mother working full time at the minimum wage can expect to spend 6 percent of her annual pay on Pampers alone. Meanwhile, the two biggest programs that assist low-income mothers, SNAP (food stamps) and WIC, don't cover diapers or baby wipes. That might be why, in a study of 877 pregnant and parenting women published in Pediatrics in 2013, a team of researchers found that needing diapers and not being able to buy them was a leading cause of mental health problems among new moms.
- America Leads Developed World in Treating Working Moms Like Crap - America is very harsh on working mothers. Women make up nearly 50 percent of America's workforce and 40 percent of household breadwinners, yet they have few of the protections mothers in other rich countries enjoy. America is the only country in the developed world that doesn't offer guaranteed paid paternity or maternity leave to workers. Only 12 percent of U.S. workers reportedly have such coverage, but it is usually a benefit provided through employer insurance. At least seven in 10 mothers with children younger than 18 were in the workforce in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet, America is quite hostile toward its working mothers.
- More Than Their Mothers, Young Women Plan Career Pauses - The youngest generation of women in the work force - the millennials, age 18 to early 30s - is defining career success differently and less linearly than previous generations of women. A variety of survey data shows that educated, working young women are more likely than those before them to expect their career and family priorities to shift over time.
- Bill That Lets Bosses Fire Single Women For Getting Pregnant Gains Steam - Critics say the language could protect an employer who doesn't believe unmarried people should have sex outside of wedlock.
- U.S. Navy Increases Maternity Leave to 4.5 Paid Months Off - The U.S. Navy is tripling the amount of maternity leave female sailors and Marines can take, bumping paid time off from six weeks to 18 weeks. This move, spearheaded by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, makes the Navy the first U.S. military service to offer more than the standard six weeks. According to Navy figures, approximately 5,000 women would be eligible per year.
- Doctors' Notes for Pregnant Employees Can Backfire, Experts Warn - Women who seek accommodations from their employers during pregnancy are sometimes fired or forced into unpaid leave for a surprising reason: Their doctor's note was not carefully worded, experts warned on Wednesday.
- State of the World's Fathers: MenCare - Check out MenCare's State of the World's Fathers 2015 report, which provides global findings on men's involvement in parenting along with policy recommendations. The report discusses "unpaid care work in the home; sexual and reproductive health and rights, and maternal, newborn and child health; men's caregiving and violence against children and women; and child development."
- New Momentum on Paid Leave, in Business and Politics - Oregon this month became the fourth state to pass a bill requiring that companies give workers paid sick days to care for themselves or family members. With pay for most workers still growing sluggishly - as it has been for most of the last 15 years - political leaders are searching for policies that can lift middle-class living standards. Companies, for their part, are becoming more aggressive in trying to retain workers as the unemployment rate has fallen below 6 percent.
- NYS passes the Breastfeeding Mothers' Bill of Rights unanimously! - While New York has strong protections for nursing mothers in the workplace, many simply do not know about their rights. This lack of information can cause women to forgo breastfeeding entirely, or, when faced with challenges at work, wean prematurely or lose their jobs. Now moms can find out about their workplace rights while they are still in a maternal healthcare facility for labor and delivery, empowering them with the information they need to decide what is best for themselves and their babies. This bill makes New York the first state to require notice of workplace rights for mothers through their healthcare providers. We are proud to have worked with you to pass this bill that can be a model for other states.
- Momentum is growing for paid family leave in New York - In 2009, the Garden State implemented a paid family leave insurance plan that uses the state's Temporary Disability Insurance system as the administrative structure - the same type of structure as is being proposed in New York. The policy costs employees less than $1 per week.
- Baby Bump? U.S. Birth Rate Rises - Women in the U.S. are having more babies - exactly 3,985,924 last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preliminary data show that birth rates in the U.S. were up by 1 percent last year from 2013. It's the first increase in seven years. But teenagers aren't having as many babies. The birth rate in that group dropped by 9 percent in 2014 compared with 2013. For context, teen births have been on the decline since 1991.
- FMLA: Protecting One, Protecting All - The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found Staples in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act for firing an employee after he took several leaves of absence to care for his ailing wife. AAUW championed the establishment of this federal policy, which helps American families balance work and family responsibilities, and we are committed to expanding the legislation to ensure that all Americans are eligible for these crucial benefits.
- Chipotle is Giving Their Hourly Employees Paid Sick Leave, Vacation Time, and a College Reimbursement - In addition to sick leave and vacation, workers will also be eligible for tuition reimbursements. A spokeswoman for the company announced that Chipotle will reimburse 90% of tuition and fees up to the IRS's $5,250 per calendar year limit. These benefits will be offered to all hourly employees after one year of work and to managers and salaried employees without any wait. This moves comes shortly after a Starbucks' announcement that indicates they will expand their own college reimbursement program.
- Richard Branson has announced a great paid leave policy for 0.2 percent of his workers - Virgin's move could serve as a metaphor for America's baby benefit gap: The majority of workers here have no access to paid family leave, and those who do often already enjoy financial stability. Low-wage workers with the least financial resources to support a new baby, however, are the least likely to have access to paid family leave. Days off, for millions, equates to diminished paychecks.
- Taking Care of our Own - It is astonishing, when you think about it, that paid leave has only entered the national political discourse in a meaningful way in 2015, with little help until recently from major political figures. The price paid by Americans who lack the right to take paid time off to recover from childbirth, to care for newborns, or to respond to the calamities of fallible health-our own and that of our loved ones-could not be higher. We have no choice but to neglect the needs of our families, or our work, or both. After unemployment, births and family illnesses are a leading cause of what is known as "poverty spells"-when one's income dips below the minimum needed to afford food and shelter.
- Fathers must go all-in for work-life balance - We too often reduce fathers' contributions to what they bring financially to the family. In many workplaces, if a father wants to take off time to help with a newborn or be a stay-at-home parent, it's seen in a negative light. But wouldn't our workplaces be better if both women and men felt the freedom to take leave to care for their children?
- School Districts Stopped Paying Attention, But Teen Pregnancy Is Still a Problem - Programs that once helped teen parents stay in school have been gutted-in part because teen pregnancy rates have dropped to historic lows. Some states and districts that once had robust support programs for teen parents now have no dedicated funding for these vulnerable kids.
- A Pregnancy Test for Schools: The Impact of Education Laws on Pregnant and Parenting Students - A Pregnancy Test for Schools outlines the ways that federal, state, and local laws, policies, and programs can change the landscape for pregnant and parenting students and ranks how well the state laws and policies address the needs of these students. The report describes the particular challenges faced by pregnant and parenting students, highlights the requirements of federal laws, reviews relevant state laws and policies (some promising and others sorely lacking), and concludes with recommendations for both policymakers and for schools.
- Breastfeeding In Airports Is Miserable. These Women Are Aiming To Fix That - Traveling may soon get a little bit easier for breastfeeding moms in the U.S. as an initiative to bring lactation rooms to airports across the country is taking hold on the legislative, corporate and grassroots level. This month, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act, a bill with bipartisan support that would require commercial airports to provide private lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers in every terminal.
- Millennials Care About Paid Leave, and Aren't Afraid to Take It - A recent survey by Ernst & Young Global Generations showed, millennials "value increased flexibility and paid parental leave" more than the Boomers or Generation X. Millennials who are parents were found to be "much more likely" to take paid parental leave: 48 percent of millennials compared to 35 percent of Gen Xers and 24 percent of Boomers. If a company offers "increased flexibility and paid parental leave.
- Well-run home visiting programs reaping benefits for new mothers - Home-visiting programs that help low-income, first-time mothers have a healthy pregnancy and develop parenting and other skills have been around for decades. Lately, however, they're attracting new fans. Such programs appeal to people of all political stripes because the good ones manage to help families while reducing government spending. The Nurse-Family Partnership, which operates in 43 states, including New York, where it originated, is one of the largest and best-studied programs.
- Nonprofit Ordered To Pay $75,000 Over 'No Pregnancy In The Workplace' Policy - United Bible Fellowship Ministries, Inc., which provides housing and care to people with disabilities, will have to pay a former employee $75,000 for firing her after she became pregnant to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The organization has had a "no pregnancy in the workplace" policy in place that meant it fired anyone who became pregnant and refused to hire anyone applying for a position while pregnant.
- Former U.S. Surgeons General Call for Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Sex Ed - Richard Carmona, Joycelyn Elders and David Satcher -- the 17th, 15th and 16th U.S. surgeons general, respectively -- tout "significant strides" in sexual health and sexuality education that have been made in the U.S. over the past 20 years, but they note there is room for further improvement.
- Moral Monday participants rally for paid family leave - "Today people of faith, labor union members, and those who care about the health of our working families have come to the Capitol to tell lawmakers that it's past time to pass paid family leave insurance legislation," said Blue Carreker, Upstate Organizer, NY Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign, Campaign Manager, Citizen Action. "We cannot wait another year to halt the economic and emotional pain inflicted on workers who are simply trying to care for their children and family members. New Jersey, California and Rhode Island have all done it - there's no reason New York can't."
- Phila. paid sick leave goes into effect Wednesday - Passed in February, the law allows workers in firms with 10 or more employees to accrue one hour of paid time off for every 40 hours they work. Paid sick leave is capped at 40 hours a year. Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill (Senate Bill 333) that would make municipal paid-sick laws, including the Philadelphia law, illegal, and the bill is now being considered by the House. Philadelphia councilmembers have called on Governor Wolf to veto Senate Bill 333 if it passes.
- Facebook has a new answer to income inequality - Facebook announced that it would be requiring contractors with more than 25 employees to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour, offer a minimum of 15 paid days off, and pay a $4,000 childcare benefit if they don't provide parental leave.
- Navy Proposes Extending Childcare Hours, Doubling Maternity Leave - A new Navy proposal could double the maternity leave for all female service members while extending hours at Navy and Marine Corps childcare centers across those services, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced. About 200,000 women currently serve in the active duty U.S. military as of late January, according to DoD statistics, with about 71,000 of those in the Navy and Marine Corps. About 91,000 of active duty female service members were married as of January, with about 27,000 of those in the Navy and Marine Corps.
- Tech exec's loss raises question: How to grieve and still work? - What happened to Sheryl Sandberg could happen to anyone: The woman who wrote the book on balancing career and family will have to figure out how soon she will return to her high-profile job following the unexpected death of her husband.
- John Oliver's Brilliant Takedown of Mother's Day Hypocrisy - America loves the idea of moms, yet treats actual moms like second-class citizens.
- AAUW OpEd: Celebrate Mother's Day, but we must do more (May 9, 2015)
- AAUW advocating for paid family leave Wednesday in Albany (May 6, 2015)
- Even Amid Albany Dysfunction, Advocates Forge Path to Paid Family Leave - Upheaval in the capital due to another high-profile corruption scandal is not stopping advocates from heading to Albany to push for legislative action. With just six weeks left in the legislative session set to expire mid-June, on Wednesday activists will rally at the Legislative Office Building and lobby lawmakers to pass paid family leave in New York State.
- NYS Workplace Pregnancy Bill Moves Ahead - New York's Assembly has passed bills intended to ensure workplace rights for pregnant employees and prohibit sexual harassment at even the smallest businesses. The votes follow Senate passage earlier this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he'll sign both measures.
- U.S. Ranks Worst Developed Country for Maternal Health - A woman in the United States faces a one in 1,800 risk of maternal death, according to an annual report by the charity Save the Children, the worst of any developed country in the world. What's more, they're more than 10 times as likely to die from a cause related to pregnancy as those in Belarus, Poland and Austria. The State of the World's Mothers 2015 report, a global index that ranks the best and worst places to be a mother based on the latest available data on indicators like political status, economics, education, children's well-being and maternal health, ranks the U.S. at No. 33 of 179 surveyed countries-down two spots from last year.
- FDA works to dispel 'myth of the medication-free pregnancy' - For years, cautious mothers-to-be and their obstetricians thought "just say no" was the most prudent approach to any medication more potent than a cough drop. But abandoning treatment for chronic health conditions - such as depression, asthma or diabetes - can sometimes affect the baby more than taking a medication while pregnant, experts said.
- Bad news for older folks: Millennials are having fewer babies - A report released last week by the Urban Institute found that millennial women are reproducing at the slowest pace of any generation in U.S. history. Childbearing fell steeply in the years immediately following the "Great Recession," with birthrates among women in their 20s declining more than 15 percent between 2007 and 2012.
- People Have Misconceptions About Miscarriage That Hurt - Most people think a miscarriage is rare, and many believe that if a woman loses a pregnancy that she brought it upon herself. Neither of those things are true, but the enduring beliefs cause great pain to women and to their partners. In fact, almost half of people who have experienced a miscarriage or whose partner has had one feel guilty, according to a survey to be published Monday in Obstetrics & Gynecology. More than a quarter of them felt shame. Many felt they'd lost a child.
- What Google Is Doing to Solve Its Gender Problem: Extend family leave - Women were dropping out of Google at a much higher rate than men were after having a kid. So, Google extended its family leave policy from three months to five months. "This is one where we stumbled into it because it's the right thing to do, and we were fortunate to find the data supported us afterward," Laszlo Bock, head of Google's People Operations, says... "and women who had been leaving at twice the rate of men before the change, started leaving at the same rate as men. The rate dropped by 50 percent." Paying more for maternity leave saves money. The cost of finding and replacing a good-to-average employee is much, much higher than two extra months of leave for a new parent, Bock says.
- Insurers Dodge Obamacare Women's Health Mandates, Study Finds - Some insurers are dodging women's health coverage requirements in Affordable Care Act, according to a new report, but advocates stopped short of calling for new laws to bring those health plans into compliance. The review found 14 plans were not covering maternity care and other health services for dependents, as required by law. One of the more popular provisions of the overhaul was allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until they are 26.
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