Pregnancy & Family Leave Issues
The Women's Equality Agenda (WEA) provisions will help the women and families of New York by preserving our access to reproductive health care, ensuring fair treatment at work, and helping survivors of violence. It's time for an upgrade. We need laws as strong as New York women. The NY state Senate and Assembly left Albany in June without passing unified legislation to make the WEA the law of the land here in New York State, the birthplace of women's rights.
AAUW's Quick Facts on Paid Family Leave and Paid Sick Days
AAUW's Know Your Rights: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
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.
Updated: April 12, 2015
- Secretary of Labor Kicks Off Tour for Paid Family Leave - Last week, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez kicked off a nationwide tour to spotlight how paid leave policies can help support families and businesses. At the first stop on his "Lead on Leave" tour, Secretary Perez was in Seattle and met with Mayor Ed Murray, business owners in the area, and AAUW members. The tour continues throughout the country in coming months, stopping in cities and states that have already begun to make progress on this issue. AAUW supports efforts to ensure that more workers have access to paid leave when they need it. Paid family and medical leave works: It helps employees take care of themselves and their families and go back to work.
- More State and Local Governments Now Offer Paid Family Leave - Allegheny County, PA and Seattle, WA are the newest jurisdictions to institute paid family leave policies for public employees. Under current federal policy, the Family and Medical Leave Act, 40 percent of workers do not have access to leave policies and those who do often cannot afford to take unpaid leave. Communities benefit when employees succeed at work and at home. Other cities offering paid family leave to government workers include San Francisco, CA; Pittsburgh, PA; St. Paul, MN; Brooklyn Park, MN; St. Petersburg, FL; Chicago, IL; and Austin, TX. Six states have also enacted paid family leave policies: California, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
- Pew Report on Pregnant Workers Underscores Significance of Young Ruling - The percentage of women who work while pregnant has increased over the last few decades, highlighting the importance of the Supreme Court's ruling in Young v. UPS, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. Researchers compiled the report using U.S. Census Bureau data on employment and maternity leave.
- Today's moms are working later into their pregnancies - and going back to work earlier too - In the early 1960s, fewer than half of American women were working at the start of their pregnancies, and only about 15 percent continued working until a month before their due date. In the mid-2000s, by contrast, about two-thirds of women were working through the beginning of pregnancy, and over 50 percent were still on the job a month before their due date. Today's moms are returning to work much earlier too. In the 1960s, a little over 10 percent of mothers returned to work within four months of giving birth. Today more than 50 percent of moms are back in the office by then -- nearly a fivefold increase.
- Justices say pregnant workers can seek accommodations - Pregnant workers can claim the same accommodations that employers grant to large numbers of similarly restricted workers, a divided Supreme Court ruled. While indicating that getting pregnant isn't automatically a ticket to light duty at work, the court ruled 6-3 that United Parcel Service could not deny a pregnant worker accommodations it made available to large numbers of others.
- Taking aim at tech industry inequality, Microsoft extends paid leave to thousands of contractors - Microsoft is taking one small step toward narrowing that gap: requiring all its vendors with more than 50 workers to offer those detailed to Microsoft contracts no fewer than 15 days of paid leave.
- Klein: There's 'Momentum' On Paid Leave - A hearing of the Senate social services and labor committees on a paid leave proposal was a "very positive first step," Sen. Jeff Klein said.
- Paid Leave Gains Momentum at State, Federal Levels - On Tuesday, the New York state Assembly passed a bill to provide private sector workers with up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or a sick family member. The measure is funded through an employee payroll deduction. The New York state Senate is also considering a proposal that would provide up to six weeks of paid family leave. If both chambers reach agreement on the proposal and the governor signs a paid family leave measure into law, New York would become the fourth state to provide private sector workers with paid leave. Meanwhile, this week Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reintroduced the federal Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act), which would provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for situations such as their own serious illness, the serious illness of a child, parent or spouse (including a domestic partner), and the birth or adoption of a child. The program created by the FAMILY Act would be funded by employee and employer contributions that would amount to less than $1.50 per week for the average worker, or two cents for every $10 of an employee's salary.
- AAUW of New Mexico Leads Effort on Maternity Leave Bill - AAUW Executive Director and CEO Linda Hallman, CAE, was in Santa Fe this week for AAUW of New Mexico's lobby day, where AAUW volunteers urged the state legislature to support proposed maternity leave legislation. The legislation, House Bill 37, would require employers of any size to give pregnant women up to three months unpaid leave before, during, or after they give birth. This bill would improve on the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires businesses with 50 or more employees to grant workers up to three months unpaid leave for medical needs such as the birth of a child. AAUW of New Mexico is leading the effort for House Bill 37 as part of the state's 2014-15 Public Policy Impact Grant, which also includes advocacy for equal pay and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
- Paid sick leave signed into Philadelphia law - After vetoing similar legislation in 2011 and 2013, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter finally signed a bill on Thursday that would allow up to 2000,000 workers in the city to earn paid sick leave. The law requires businesses with 10 or more employees to give workers at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Three states and more than a dozen cities have similar laws, and President Obama has called on Congress to pass federal sick-leave legislation.
- Labor Pains: More women than ever are having babies at the peak of their careers. When will we stop punishing them for it? - Women are now having babies smack in the middle of their peak earning periods and that their earnings are crucial to the economic stability of their families. And there is no denying that motherhood makes an economic and practical dent in the shape and solidity of their careers.
- 5 Most Insane Facts About Maternity Leave in the U.S. - For a country so taken with the idea of "family values," the United States does a remarkably terrible job at helping people start families. We are the only industrialized nation that doesn't have a law guaranteeing that new mothers receive paid maternity leave, and only 12 percent of women are granted paid leave by their employers. In most workplaces, paternity leave remains unheard of. Though it is technically illegal to fire workers after learning they are pregnant, it is very difficult to prove the cause of termination, and discrimination against pregnant and nursing employees persists.
- The Framing of Our Federal Maternity Leave Policy Is Totally Arbitrary
- The Only Other Countries That Don't Guarantee New Moms Some Form of Partially Paid Time Off Are Oman and Papa New Guinea
- Our Maternity Leave Policies Exacerbate Economic Inequality
- Maternity Leave Policies Have a Profound Effect on Career Trajectories
- There's Proof That Reforming Parental Leave Legislation Helps Families, But Congress Won't Touch It
- Supreme Court Lets Stand Ruling that Firing Woman for Breastfeeding Not Sexist Since Men Can Lactate - The plaintiff was fired for taking time to pump milk and told "just go home to be with your babies."
- The Economic Benefits of Paid Parental Leave - Economists have found that with paid leave, more people take time off, particularly low-income parents who may have taken no leave or dropped out of the work force after the birth. Paid leave raises the probability that mothers return to employment later, and then work more hours and earn higher wages. Paid leave does not necessarily help businesses - but it does not seem to hurt them, either. Eighty-seven percent say it has not increased costs. Nine percent say they saved money, because of decreased turnover or benefit payments.
- House Members Introduce Legislation to Provide Paid Parental Leave to Federal Workers - Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) reintroduced the AAUW-supported Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, which would make federal employees eligible for six weeks of paid parental leave. Federal workers are currently eligible for only 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Maloney has introduced bills to provide federal workers with paid parental leave since 2000. President Obama called on Congress earlier this month to take this action for federal workers, and AAUW continues to advocate for proposals that would make paid family leave available to all workers.
- Whoa, 2.8 Million New Jobs? How Guaranteed Paid Sick Days Could Seriously Improve the Economy - With unemployment still holding back the economy, reducing the average hours of those with jobs can increase employment.
- Democrat bill would give federal workers paid parental leave - Federal employees would be eligible for six weeks of paid leave for purposes related to the birth or adoption of a child, under legislation introduced Monday by a group of House Democrats. Currently, federal employees are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave and can substitute paid sick and annual leave for part or all that unpaid time. Agencies additionally may advance leave for those purposes to employees who have accumulated an insufficient amount; the memo essentially removed the discretion they had over whether to grant such requests.
- Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care - The report finds that a large body of evidence demonstrates that the hormonal physiology of childbearing has significant benefits for the health of mothers and babies and can optimize breastfeeding and maternal-infant attachment. But it concludes that common maternity care interventions may disturb hormonal processes, reduce their benefits, and create new challenges.
- Is Inequality Killing US Mothers? - Today, more U.S. women die in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes than at almost any point in the last 25 years. The United States is the one of only seven countries in the entire world that has experienced an increase in maternal mortality over the past decade (we join the likes of Afghanistan and South Sudan), and mothers in Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia and Greece (among many other countries) have a better chance of surviving pregnancy than do women in the United States.
- The stark disparities of paid leave: The rich get to heal. The poor get fired. - About 43 million American workers have no paid sick leave, according to White House figures. High wage earners tend to receive the benefits through employers, according to a recent survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- More States Improving Workplace Protections for Pregnant Women - The state laws vary, with some based off the previously introduced federal Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (S 942, HR 1975). Meanwhile, others were crafted separately, such as the Illinois measure, which was written by the state American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Rights Project. In addition, state lawmakers in Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin are expected to consider statewide protections for pregnant workers in 2015, according to "Stateline."
- Worker: My Boss Told Me I Should Stay Home With My Baby, Fired Me While I Was On Maternity Leave - Mekhala Sofsky recently filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court claiming that her former employer the Doughnut Plant twice demoted her after learning of her pregnancy and then fired her while she was on maternity leave.
- The unbelievable rise of single motherhood in America over the last 50 years - Few institutions in America have evolved over the last 50 years quite like motherhood. More women are having their children later in life. Or they're doing so in less traditional ways: before marriage, without marriage, or with unmarried partners. Single motherhood has grown so common in America that demographers now believe half of all children will live with a single mom at some point before the age of 18.
- YouTube CEO: Paid Maternity Leave Should Be Available to All U.S. Women - The "sad truth" is that paid maternity leave is "rare in America, and the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world in providing for the needs of pregnant women and new mothers," YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.
- U.S. preterm birth rate hits Healthy People 2020 goal seven years early - The national preterm birth rate fell to 11.4 percent in 2013 -- the lowest in 17 years -- meeting the federal Healthy People 2020 goal seven years early. The U.S. still received a 'C' on the 7th annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card because it fell short of the more-challenging 9.6 percent target set by the March of Dimes.
- Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma
Women's role in society and the economy has been transformed over the last half-century. Today, 70 percent of women with children at home are in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But only recently have men's roles begun to change in significant ways. Paternity leave is perhaps the clearest example of how things are changing - and how they are not. Though the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents, it requires no paid leave. The 14 percent of companies that do offer pay, like Ernst & Young, do so by choice. Twenty percent of companies that are supposed to comply with the law, meanwhile, still don't offer paternity leave, according to the 2014 National Study of Employers by the Families and Work Institute. And almost half the workers in the United States work at smaller companies that are not required to offer any leave at all.
- Sanitation can eliminate slums in less than a generation - Investing in water and sanitation could eradicate urban poverty and eliminate slums in less than a generation, said a study published on Thursday. Almost 1 billion people, most of them in South Asia and Africa, live in slums without access to basic services like clean water and improved toilets.
- Pittsburgh Approves Workplace Protections for Pregnant City Employees - Pittsburgh's City Council last week passed a measure that will expand workplace protections for city workers who are pregnant. The ordinance will require the city and contractors that hold more than $250,000 in city contracts to facilitate "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant employees, such as access to drinking water, unpaid breaks and allowing employees to sit while working.
- Family-friendly? Facebook, Apple pay to freeze employees' eggs - The relatively new practice of freezing eggs allows women to put their fertility on hold so they can still have children later in life.
- The More Successful Women Are, The More Having Children Costs Them - High-achieving business women do not typically make 78 cents for every dollar their male peers earn. They make 62 cents for every dollar. That's the finding of a new study out of Harvard, "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors."
- Children and Career: Making it Work- While women have been achieving greater strides in the professional world, the unfortunate pay gap and gender discrimination statistics persist. According to a new study by Palo Alto Software, 52 percent of women reported feeling prejudiced against, compared with just 9 percent of men. What's more, the study reveals how parenthood impacts mothers much more than men professionally because their career peaks often happen parallel to childbirth. The career breaks impact a woman's wage significantly, increasing the gap between them and men.
- Young Pregnant Woman Are Not Receiving Proper Oral Health Care, Study Finds - Young pregnant women on average have worse oral health and had gone to the dentist less recently than several other groups, according to a study published in CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease. The study found that 57% of pregnant women ages 15 to 24 said their teeth were in good condition, compared with 86% of pregnant women ages 35 to 44. However, the trend reversed among nonpregnant women, with 75% of nonpregnant women ages 15 to 24 saying their teeth were in good condition, compared with 67% of nonpregnant women ages 35 to 44.
- Poll: Majority of Voters Support Paid Family Leave - A majority of voters support paid family leave and other federal efforts to help working families, and such issues could motivate women to vote, according to a poll released Thursday by Lake Research Partners. The poll found that 76% of respondents supported efforts to establish flexible workplace policies, equal pay for women and raise the minimum wage. The majority of respondents also supported efforts to ensure affordable child care.
- "I Never Want Anyone Else to Go Through What I Did" - Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women have been active in the fight to pass legislation limiting, if not banning, the practice of chaining and shackling women while they are in labor, childbirth and delivery.
- Reported Complaints Do Not Reflect Full Scope of Pregnancy Discrimination Incidents - Although more women are filing pregnancy discrimination claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, some remain hesitant to report pregnancy discrimination and face challenges when trying to prove the claims in court.
- Calif. Gov. Signs Bills To Address Contraceptive Coverage Gaps - California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Thursday signed a bill (SB 1053) into law that requires health plans in the state to cover contraceptive methods and services without out-of-pocket costs, delays or other restrictions.
- Pregnancy a disability? HUD finds mortgage lenders deny loans to new, expectant moms - Three-quarters of U.S. moms are in the labor force, but securing a mortgage while on maternity leave or pregnant is "a significant challenge and producing a steady flow of complaints," said Bryan Greene, HUD's general deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development launched 15 maternity-leave discrimination investigations this year, part of a pattern that has seen the federal agency investigate 173 allegations against lenders since 2010, Greene said.
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