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: January 24, 2015
- 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.
- What Our Culture of Overwork Is Doing to Mothers - A slew of new research suggests that equality between the sexes, the rise of which seemed to stop in the '90s like a three-day old helium balloon, is back in the ascendant. But it also suggests women aren't paid as much as men because of the longer hours that are now required of employees to get ahead.
- Lawmakers, civil rights leaders tell Supreme Court to support pregnant workers - More than 120 Democratic lawmakers in Congress, women's and civil rights advocates, women business leaders and a bipartisan group of state legislators filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the Supreme Court on Thursday in support of Peggy Young, a former UPS driver, and her pursuit of reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers to keep them on the job.
- Maternity Death Rates Are Very High In The U.S., But Congress Doesn't Seem To Care - America ranks 60th out of 180 countries in maternity death rates, but it doesn't have to be that way. America is one of only eight countries in the world to see an increase in its maternal mortality rate over the past decade; Greece, Afghanistan and several nations in Africa and South America round out the other seven. In 2013, 18.5 mothers died for every 100,000 births in the U.S-a total of nearly 800 deaths. Nationwide, black American women are four times as likely to die during childbirth than white women, according to Amnesty International.
- More States Protecting Pregnant Workers Through Legislation - More states have been considering legislation to protect pregnant workers as lawsuits and pregnancy discrimination claims have increased. Lawmakers who support allowing workplace accommodations during pregnancy call the measures "'common sense'" legislation, and the "movement has been picking up steam," Schulte writes. In the last 18 months, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and New Jersey have passed laws that improve protections against job-based discrimination for pregnant women. California and Hawaii have similar laws. Meanwhile, legislation is pending in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
- The Parent Gap: Many Challengers of Birth Control Benefit Don't Offer Parental Leave Either - Many of the employers currently suing the federal government over the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive benefit fail to offer employees robust parental leave coverage, an analysis by RH Reality Check shows.
- Greener Neighborhoods Lead to Better Birth Outcomes - Mothers who live in neighborhoods with plenty of grass, trees or other green vegetation are more likely to deliver at full term and their babies are born at higher weights, compared to mothers who live in urban areas that arenít as green, a new study shows.
- The Color of Infant Mortality - Infant mortality is about race, poverty, and geography and the ways that the lives of some women and children in the United States are made to matter more than others. It is also about the multitude of ways we foster life for some people and not others.
Infant mortality is not only a statistical measure; it is also a reproductive justice issue. Just as women have the right to prevent pregnancies they do not want, they should also have the right to bear and nurture children who will survive and thrive.
- How to End the Criminalization of US Mothers - Nightmarish stories about the criminalizing of motherhood have been making headlines of late. Other countries provide social programs and income support for poor single mothers; in the United States, we arrest them. What is driving the United States' assault on mothers, and what is the remedy?
- How a Part-Time Pay Penalty Affects Working Mothers - Working fewer than 40 hours per week, as women are likelier than men to do, often results in a lower per-hour wage, furthering the gender gap in pay. Women get paid less than men in almost all jobs, but when women in low-wage jobs need to take time off work to care for children, they are at an even greater disadvantage.
- Police work, pregnancy collide in KY town - Should an employer be required to accommodate the physical needs of a pregnant worker? What if the employee works in a field where physical activity is a job requirement, such as law enforcement?
- EEOC sues Savi Technology for pregnancy discrimination; company disputes charges - An Alexandria, VA firm has been sued by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly offering a human-resources position to a woman only to pull back the offer after discovering she was a new mother. Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers cannot discriminate against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
- Fewer Unmarried Women Having Children, CDC Reports - Fewer unmarried America women are having babies, with the notable exception of those who are over 35, federal health officials reported. Births outside of marriage continued a slight decline in 2013, accounting for 40.6 percent of all births, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts track births to unmarried women because they're linked to higher risk for complications such as premature delivery, low birth weight and infant death.
- Why Swedish men take so much paternity leave - Close to 90% of Swedish fathers take paternity leave. Last year some 340,000 dads took a total of 12m days' leave, equivalent to about seven weeks each. Women take even more leave days to spend time with their children. Forty years ago Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce a gender-neutral paid parental-leave allowance. This involves paying 90% of wages for 180 days per child, and parents were free to divvy up the days between them in whatever way they pleased.
- Britain: New mothers sidelined to 'mummy track' in their millions - Six out of 10 mothers say their careers were "derailed" after becoming pregnant, and admitted they faced open discrimination in the workplace, research from law firm Slater and Gordon has revealed. More than 60 per cent of survey respondents said they felt their boss had a negative perception of working mothers, which meant they were mistreated when they returned to work, and overlooked for career opportunities. Women often found themselves being offered less senior roles (18 per cent), overlooked for promotion or opportunities (27 per cent) and even demoted (8 per cent) on returning to the workplace.
- Two Working Parents, One Sick Kid - When both mom and dad have jobs, the cultural default is that mom will be the one to take the day off and stay at home. The difficulties of the two-working-parent household: Whose job should take precedence? Who has to call everyone and cancel meetings? Who shoulders the responsibility of family?
- More Education = Delayed Fertility = More Mobility? - Inequality during childhood appears to have harmful implications for the prospects for social mobility later in life. Economically disadvantaged children tend to have worse teachers, whether measured by inputs or outputs, and effective teachers matter a great deal. Time-use studies find that highly-educated mothers spend more time on all forms of child care than less-educated mothers and are also more likely to change the type of child care based on children's developmental needs. Mothers with more education and higher incomes score higher on indices of effective parenting than their less advantaged peers.
- New steps to address maternal depression - The new law, which was sponsored by Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, will provide educational services, as well as promote screening and treatment for maternal depression disorders. The new law provides information and guidelines on maternal depression screening; information on follow-up support and referrals; and public education to promote awareness of and de-stigmatize maternal depression. In addition, the legislation (S.7234-b/A.9610-b) is intended to ensure that New Yorkers are informed of the public health services that will help them understand, identify and treat maternal depression.
- Western moms lead the U.S. in breastfeeding, southeast lags - Nearly eight in 10 U.S. newborns are now breastfed for some length of time, according to new government data, a continuation of a healthful upward trend that began decades ago.
- The Silent Anguish of Pregnant Women Who Struggle With Addiction - Pregnant women who struggle with addiction face incredible obstacles, including difficulty in obtaining the health care they need. The criminalization of pregnancy and the lack of resources available to this vulnerable population exacerbate the problem by pushing these women into hiding.
- Paid Sick Day Campaigns Gaining Traction Across U.S. Despite Opposition From Fast Food Chains - Across the country, cities are passing paid sick time laws. On July 28, the San Diego City Council approved a measure providing an estimated 279,000 workers an opportunity to earn paid sick days, and raising the minimum wage for 172,000 workers to $11.50 by 2017. The same day, Eugene, Oregon's city council voted to bring paid sick time to an estimated 25,000 workers, allowing workers to earn an hour of paid time for every 30 they work, with a maximum of 40 hours a year.
- Lack of Awareness, Uneven Implementation Hamper Laws Aiming To Prevent Shackling of Imprisoned Pregnant Women - Shackling pregnant inmates during and after labor can be a "threat to the health of both mother and child," yet it remains "a multistate problem." The practice "is common," according to a Correctional Association of New York study to be released in September that found 23 of 27 surveyed women reported being shackled before, during or after their delivery. Twenty-one states have laws preventing shackling, but they vary, and Quinn writes there is "evidence of negligence in the implementation of these laws across the country" and that "isn't the only problem."
- 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.
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