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)
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: May 27, 2015
- 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.
- Gillibrand 'optimistic' about paid leave in New York - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is "optimistic" about the chances for New York State to enact a law allowing paid leave, and has been talking with members of the state Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo's office about it, she said Friday after an event at Union College.
- Influence of maternal depression on household food insecurity for low-income families - According to a longitudinal study published in Academic Pediatrics, maternal depression is an independent risk factor for household food insecurity in low-income families with young children.
- Groups seek relief for pregnant postal workers - A coalition of civil rights organizations is pushing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to provide greater workplace accommodations, such as light duty, for pregnant employees.
- Former Surgeon General Talks About The Importance Of Community Health - Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher about what he sees as one of the biggest community health challenges across the nation, and that is infant mortality, and looking for ways to improve those statistics.
- Reproductive Coercion - Reproductive coercion, an area that domestic violence experts have been trying to raise more awareness about in recent years, is defined as "explicit attempts to impregnate a partner against her will, control outcomes of a pregnancy, coerce a partner to have unprotected sex, and interfere with contraceptive methods." It's a common form of abuse in relationships with unhealthy power dynamics, since it allows abusive partners to exert a long-lasting form of control over their victims by forcing them into pregnancy.
- Your Pregnancy May Subject You to Even More Law Enforcement Violence - for pregnant women, law enforcement violence isn't limited to physical brutality. Police and other law enforcement frequently subject pregnant women to other, less visible forms of violence. For instance, in many precincts and jails, pregnant women are subject to inhumane practices such as shackling or the denial of food, clothing and medical care. But in many states, if a woman subjects herself and her fetus to such practices, she risks criminalization and arrest, often on charges such as child endangerment, child abuse or fetal homicide. Both the criminalization of pregnancy and the arrests of pregnant women constitute their own forms of police violence, but are often overlooked by much of the larger organizing movements against police violence sweeping the country.
- Inside the hidden world of homeless teen mothers - Academics and advocates say homeless adolescent mothers are substantially more at risk of further pregnancies, sexual abuse, mental health issues, drug addiction and dropping out. The trauma they experience during these vulnerable years they carry into adulthood and the homeless family service programs.
- Why women are afraid to tell employers they're pregnant - Laura Little, 40, the director of the Institute for Leadership Advancement at the University of Georgia, began researching this exact issue - the need to control one's image for job security. And in a study to be published next week in the Academy of Management Journal, she and other researchers found it's prevalent-and damaging-among expectant mothers. Pregnant workers, dubbed in the paper "potentially stigmatized individuals," often fear employers will start viewing them as distracted or less competent. "So, they go the extra mile," said Little. "Some actually work harder than they did before."
- Businesses and breastfeeding - When a United Airlines employee tossed a blanket at a breastfeeding mother during the plane's taxi, he thought he was doing his employer and its other customers a favor. According to Kristen Hilderman, who was flying from Houston to Vancouver in March, an employee named Keith didn't even deign to speak to her about her breastfeeding, but instead dealt with her husband. After declaring her husband could "help her out," he ignored Kristen's question as to what she needed help with. When she then went to board her next flight, there was a sole blanket by her seat only. Unlike mothers of years past, Kristen had social media at her disposal. All she needed to do was tweet. United had no choice but to pay attention.
- Feds reject ObamaCare open enrollment for pregnant women - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has denied a request from Democrats to create a special open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act for women when they find out they are pregnant. HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the agency does not have "the legal authority to establish pregnancy as an exceptional circumstance" to create a special enrollment period.
- New Report On "Spacing" Childbirth - For U.S. moms, the typical time between pregnancies is about 2-1/2 years but nearly a third of women space their children too close, a government study shows. Experts say mothers should wait at least 18 months to give their body time to recover and increase the chances the next child is full-term and healthy.
- Women in the world: Where the U.S. falters in quest for equality - Mothers of newborns are guaranteed paid leave in 188 countries, the WORLD Policy Analysis Center reports. Only nine countries do not. Guess which one is among them? The United States. The others: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Suriname and Tonga.
- Pregnant restaurant manager fired after armed robbery - After a fast-food restaurant was robbed, the pregnant shift manager said she was fired for refusing to reimburse the company the money that was stolen.
- Georgia Walmart Refuses to Fill Prescription for Miscarriage Patient - State law allows pharmacists to refuse a prescription if they feel it violates their personal beliefs. In Milledgeville, Georgia, Brittany Cartrett recently was informed by her doctor of something no expecting mother wanted to hear: she had miscarried early in her pregnancy, about four or five weeks in. Her doctor called a Walmart in Milledgeville asking that it provide Cartrett with a medication that would help her pass naturally. The problem is, the Walmart refused to offer the prescription.
- Secretary of Labor Kicks Off Tour for Paid Family Leave - 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.
- 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."
Branch Homepage - Public Policy Issues to Watch