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 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: July 23, 2014
- A hard test of the economy: When to start a family - U.S. birth rates near a historic low as families wrestle with big life decisions when the future seems uncertain.
- How will the Schedules That Work Act help? Here are just a few ways.
- It would give employees the right to request a change in their work schedules and clear protections from retaliation for making those requests.
- It would give workers who need a schedule change because of critical obligations like caregiving a right to receive that change if the employer has no business reason to deny it.
- It would require employers in certain industries to give employees advance notice of work schedules and provide extra shift pay to employees who are sent home without working their scheduled shifts or given less than 24 hours' notice of whether they have to report to work.
This bill would make our economy work better for everyone. Please urge your Members of Congress to sign on as co-sponsors.
- White House Adviser Jarrett Uses Opinion Piece To Address Measures To Protect Pregnant Women Against Discrimination - Accommodating pregnant women with "slight job modifications could help them stay in the workforce at no risk to their health," Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser to President Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, writes in a CNN opinion piece. However, "[i]n so many cases, modest accommodations ... are denied pregnant women, forcing expectant moms to choose between their health and that of their pregnancies, and their jobs," she adds.
- The wealth gap is growing, but poor women see one improvement: healthier newborns - While other economic and health disparities have widened, giving way to huge national debates about inequality, pregnant women at the lowest rung of the nation's economic ladder are bucking that trend. They have narrowed the gap with wealthier women in the health of their babies. The improvements reflect improved access to care, as well as a complex array of other factors, from pollution to nutrition to violence at home.
- Many Employers Favor Contraceptive Coverage - Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, said many employers view the coverage as beneficial because covering birth control is less costly than expenses related to maternity and delivery care.
- EEOC to employers: Stop discriminating against pregnant workers - For the first time in more than 30 years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new guidelines to make clear to employers that refusing to give reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers is illegal under federal law. The new guidelines say pregnancy-related conditions can now be considered disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which entitles workers to accommodations at work. Lactation, a controversial and disputed matter in the courts, is now considered a medical condition. And a pregnant worker is now entitled to receive reasonable accommodations, like light duty work, even if she hasn't been injured on the job.
- Timeline: 100 Years of Birth Control - Since Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger coined the term "birth control" in 1914, contraception has truly revolutionized women's lives in the United States, and around the world. This timeline begins that year and ends 100 years later in 2014, as 99 percent of sexually active women report using at least one form of birth control at some point in their lives.
- Democrats Unveil Legislation To Counter Hobby Lobby Ruling - House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday are introducing legislation that aims to override the Supreme Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby by prohibiting employers from denying health coverage to female workers that is guaranteed under federal law.
- Colo. Family Planning Program Linked to Lower Teen Birth Rate - Women participating in a Colorado family planning program accounted for about three-fourths of a 40% drop in the state's teen birth rate between 2009 and 2012, according to state figures.
- More Men Taking Time Off Under Calif. Family Leave Law - Since California began offering paid family leave to new parents 10 years ago this month, there has been a significant increase in the number of fathers taking time off of work under the law to care for a new child.
- Banks Won't Give Mortgages to Women on Maternity Leave - A number of banks, including Bank of America and PNC Mortgage, have settled with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) over allegations that they denied women mortgages because they were on maternity leave at the time. Lenders' decisions to withhold loans on the idea that women's earnings don't "count" if they're on leave, often because they assume women may not go back to work, are based on the same outdated ideas that women get pregnant and quit their jobs in droves. Yet six months after a first birth, nearly 60 percent of women are back at work. More than 70 percent of mothers with young children are in the workforce and four in ten mothers are the sole or primary breadwinner for their families. Things have changed significantly since the 1970s, as mothers have increased their work hours 150 percent, but banks don't seem to have caught up.
- New California Law Expands Paid Family Leave - A law (SB 770) expands paid family leave in California. Under existing law, workers can take paid leave to care for a sick child, parent, spouse or domestic partner. The new law expands that to include siblings, grandparents, in-laws and grandchildren. Workers can receive 55% of their pay over six weeks of leave under the law.
- Supreme Court To Hear Pregnancy Discrimination Case - The Supreme Court has agreed to review a pregnancy discrimination claim involving a UPS employee who was denied a light-duty assignment that would have allowed her to continue working during her pregnancy. Young in her appeal to the Supreme Court argued that PDA requires employers to accommodate pregnant workers' needs in the same way that they would accommodate workers with comparable "ability or inability to work," regardless of the origin of a worker's condition.
- A Map of Maternity Leave Policies Around the World - The U.S. is one of only a handful of countries that does not require some form of paid time off for new mothers. If you're a woman working in the United States and your employer provides paid maternity leave, consider yourself lucky: Just 11 percent of Americans employed by private industry have access to some sort of paid family leave. For state and government employees, 16 percent can take paid family leave. The U.S. federal government provides no paid family leave to its employees, though they can use their sick days or vacation days that they've saved up.
- From boardroom to ballgame to bedtime, dads are learning to juggle - Women have been trying for decades to juggle, balance, multitask, lean every which way, work the second shift and, most elusively, have it all. For many working mothers, the guilt from being unable to fulfill any or all of these lifestyle euphemisms has been unrelenting. Steadily, and almost silently, work-life imbalance has thrown men off-kilter, too.
- The U.S.'s exceptionally bad support for parental leave - In an era when the vast majority of families must have both parents working just to make ends meet, our laissez-faire attitude toward taking care of the kids - newborns particularly - has overburdened millions of mothers and fathers. Many congressional Democrats are backing a bill by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) that would provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave by raising the payroll tax on employers and employees by 0.2 percentage points.
- College Attainment Linked to Babies Within Marriage - A study by Johns Hopkins University researchers has found that young women with a college education, when they have a baby, are likely to do so within a marriage, but that this is no longer the case for young women who lack a college degree. The study found that of mothers aged 26 to 31, 32 percent of those with four or more years of college had at least one baby while unmarried. Of mothers with one to three years of college, 67 percent had at least one baby unmarried. For those with only a high school diploma, 71 percent had a baby without being married. The figure was 87 percent for those without a high school diploma.
- Albany legislators should pass the Paid Family Leave Insurance Act to assist families juggling work and home responsibilities - Whether its a father taking paternity leave, a parent looking after a sick child or a child caring for an ill parent, the ability to take paid leave is a necessity for all New Yorkers. This is a bill that will offer desperately needed assistance to families who are juggling responsibilities on both the workfront and the homefront - without placing significant financial burdens on small businesses.
- World Blood Donor Day 2014: Safe blood for saving mothers - According to the World Health Organization, 800 women die every day from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Severe bleeding is the cause of 34% of maternal deaths in Africa, 31% in Asia and 21% in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Who Owns Your Womb? Women Can Get Murder Charge for Refusing C-Sections - Think you always have a choice over how to give birth? Think again. Decades ago, refusing to undergo cesarean surgery was not a crime. That’s another matter now in the wake of recent "fetal protection" enactments that make it a crime for a pregnant woman to engage in any conduct that might threaten harm to a fetus. Some doctors believe this applies to how a woman gives birth.
- Pumped up: Breastfeeding mothers fight for rights at work - A growing number of lactation discrimination lawsuits highlighting the need for more accommodation and acceptance for nursing mothers in the workplace, advocates say. Despite overwhelming evidence supporting the health benefits of breastfeeding, “women who choose to continue breastfeeding when they return to the paid workforce face insurmountable obstacles that can make them choose between their jobs and what is in the best interest of their babies,” said New York-based ACLU senior staff attorney Galen Sherwin, who is representing Bockoras.
- Push Made For Paid-Family Leave - Advocates and Senate Democrats on Monday made a new push for paid family-leave legislation, pointing to a national trend of similar measures passing in other states. The measure would create an employee-paid system through payroll deductions of 45 cents, rising to 88 cents a week in the next four years. The law would expand the current Temporary Disability Insurance program through an increase in premiums that's shared by employers and employees. "Paid family leave is for everybody," said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. "The Women's Equality Act focuses on issues that are important to the majority of women who we're representing. Paid family leave is everybody. Anybody could find themselves in a situation where they are expected to take care of a parent or a child."
- Senate Dems make paid family leave an end-of-session priority - Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins was joined by colleagues, business leaders, and labor representatives to urge her fellow senators to pass the Paid Family Leave Insurance Bill.
- 4 Ways America Is Hostile Toward Mothers - Criminalization of pregnancy and unpaid maternity leave are some of the obstacles mothers face in the U.S.: High Maternal Mortality Rate, Unpaid Maternity and Paternity Leave, Breastfeeding Discrimination and Criminalization of Pregnancy.
- Bill makes it easier for new mothers to treat 'baby blues' - The Maternal Depression Bill (S.7234/A.9610) would provide education promote screening and treatment referrals for postpartum depression and other maternal depression disorders, creating the state's first system-wide screening and referral procedure. Prenatal depression, "baby blues," postpartum anxiety, and postpartum psychosis are all examples of maternal depression that would be addressed under this bill.
- AAUW Blog: The Child Care Conundrum - Should working moms lean in, opt out, or something in between? When it comes to careers, motherhood is a condition that, rightly or wrongly, is blamed for lower earnings, slower advancement, and the absence of women from the workforce. At the crux of every discussion about the “mommy wars” or “having it all” is the overwhelming, expensive mess that is child care in the United States — and the many difficulties women who work outside the home face because of it.
- For Workers, Less Flexible Companies - Many employers say they offer telecommuting and flexible work hours, but in fact are cutting back on time for child leave or to care for an ill parent. Recent studies show that more employers are cutting back programs that would allow workers to reduce hours to better manage the care of, say, an ill parent. Employers have also cut back the length of leave to new fathers and adoptive parents, and reduced pay given to birth mothers on leave. And fewer employers are encouraging supervisors to assess workers' performance by what they accomplish, instead of resorting to measures like hours worked or face time. A study of 545 employers found that only 20 percent of companies offered a variety of flexible options to most of their workers.
- A 21st Century Workplace for Today's Working Families - Nearly half of America's workforce is now comprised of women, and three-fourths of households are headed by a working single parent, or two working parents. Still, our workplaces have yet to catch up by implementing policies which empower women, and provide flexibility for parents.
- What Men Really Want When It Comes to Work - Eighty-nine percent of men say paternity leave is hugely important to them, says a new Boston College study to be published in June. But it's more than just expecting parents to share the workload at home - men are starting to demand parity in the workplace too.
- Mothers' Thankless Work Building an Economy for the Rest of Us - While it merely aims to inspire schmaltzy feelings about the sacrifice our mothers make for us, it also highlights the very real, backbreaking, time-consuming work it takes to be a parent. During that time period from the late 1970s to the 2000s, while women were increasing their work hours, other developed countries were passing family-friendly policies like paid family leave and affordable childcare. The United States, on the other hand, is one of just five countries across the entire globe that doesn't guarantee paid maternity leave. The country ranks at number twenty-one among developed countries for the percentage of GDP spent on preschool, and spending on childcare assistance has hit a decade low.
- Health law gives pregnant women new options - The health care law has opened up an unusual opportunity for some mothers-to-be to save on medical bills for childbirth. Lower-income women who signed up for a private policy in the new insurance exchanges will have access to additional coverage from their state's Medicaid program if they get pregnant. Some women could save hundreds of dollars on their share of hospital and doctor bills. Medicaid already pays for nearly half of U.S. births, but this would create a way for the safety-net program to supplement private insurance for many expectant mothers.
- New Benefits for Breastfeeding Moms: Facts and Tools to Understand Your Coverage under the Health Care Law - As part of women's preventive services under the ACA, new plans are required to cover breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling. This is a significant step forward in making breastfeeding more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans.
- Meet The Woman Who Did Everything In Her Power To Hide Her Pregnancy From Big Data - Janet Vertesi, assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University, had an idea: would it be possible to hide her pregnancy from big data? Thinking about technology-the way we use it and the way it uses us-is her professional life's work. Pregnant women, she knew, are a marketing gold mine; a pregnant woman's marketing data is worth 15 times as much as the average person's. Here's what she found: hiding from big data is so inconvenient and expensive that even Vertesi doesn't recommend it as a lifestyle choice.
- In the News: When Being Pregnant Also Means Being Out Of A Job - Thirty-six years after Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers still have very different interpretations of what they're required to do to accommodate expectant mothers.
- In the News: Walmart Managers Won't Tell Workers About their Newly Won Rights
New policies that provide more hours and protect pregnant workers. Walmart's two new policy changes. One allows workers to pick up shifts online in order to gain more hours, which pads their paltry pay. The other provides new protections for pregnant women, who have been subject to harsh labor conditions including being ordered to move heavy items.
- In the News: Lawsuit: Forced on maternity leave, forced to return before baby is due -
"What's outrageous about this case," said Caselman's attorney Sharon Terman of the Legal Aid Society, "is that pregnant workers are being forced out of their jobs when they're perfectly able to keep working, and it's happening at a time when they most need their income, when they are growing their family."
- In the News: Teen Birth Rate in US Drops but Still 1,700 Babies Born to Teens Every Week, CDC - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released the latest statistics for teen pregnancies indicating a 63 percent decline in teen birth rate in the last two decades. Analysis from 1991 to 2012 revealed that the number of births among 15-17 year olds dropped but these younger teens still accounted for a quarter of teen births. The rate of births among young teens is 1,700 per week. This new finding highlights the need to introduce strict interventions in order to curb teen pregnancies.
- In the News: Under pressure, Wal-Mart upgrades its policy for helping pregnant workers - In early March, Wal-Mart quietly overhauled its pregnancy policy, that could still ease the way for hundreds of thousands of its other female employees who could have babies down the road. Such problems certainly aren't unique to Wal-Mart. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 5,797 pregnancy-related complaints in 2011, from all sectors of the economy; with more women working through pregnancy, employers have been figuring out how to modify their duties as they become more difficult to perform.
- In the News: Massachusetts Senate Votes for Childbirth Without Chains - On Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed S2012, a bill that prohibits shackling during labor and delivery and sets minimum standards for pregnancy-related care for people in jails and prisons. The vote comes after nearly three decades of activism and advocacy from people both in and out of jails and prisons.
- In the News: Scary Trend: Across America, Attacks on Pregnant Women's Rights On the Rise
- In the News: ‘16 and Pregnant,’ May Serve as a Cautionary Tale - A study finds that MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” a reality show depicting very young parents, may have contributed to a drop in teenage pregnancy. “It’s thrilling,” said Sarah S. Brown, the chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit group in Washington. “People just don’t understand how influential media is in the lives of young people.”
- OpEd: When the state interferes in a family drama - His father-in-law, Ernest Machado, told the New York Times the state has made his daughter “a host for a fetus.” Indeed. In seeking to protect a life not yet viable outside the womb, it has reduced its mother to a thing, and robbed her family of its right to say a dignified and proper farewell.
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