This likely comes as no surprise to working moms and dads, but workplace protections for new parents in the U.S. are limited.
In fact, the U.S. ranked last out of 38 countries in a Pew Research Center report on government-supported time off. Top-ranked Estonia offers two years of paid leave for new mothers, but the median amount of paid time off for new moms was five or six months. The U.S. offers no paid leave.
Now a study by the National Partnership for Women and Families provides a state-by-state analysis of laws that help new parents. The “Expecting Better” report paints a bleak picture of the reality for new moms (and dads) in 17 states across the U.S. — all of which earned an F for their laws (or lack thereof) that help new parents. Overall, 1 in 3 U.S. states received a failing grade when it comes to their support of new parents.
The U.S. has just three federal laws pertaining to workplace protections for parents: the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and a provision of the Affordable Care Act that offers security for moms who want to continue to breastfeed after they return to work, The Huffington Post said.
While some states have improved upon the minimal federal laws by approving state laws that protect new moms – like a flexible working environment, pregnancy accommodations and paid leave – most states don’t. According to HuffPo:
“New mothers and fathers should not have to experience financial hardship at what should be one of the happiest times of their lives,” wrote National Partnership president Debra L. Ness in a recent Huffington Post blog. “And a growing body of evidence shows that ensuring new parents and all workers have access to family friendly policies like paid sick days and paid family and medical leave has widespread benefits for the health and economic security of families and the strength of businesses and the economy.”
The states that received an F grade are: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
Those that received high praise are: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. California is rated the best state for working parents to raise a family. California is the only state that passed with an A, albeit an A-. Bloomberg Businessweek said:
California offers the best protections on a spectrum that includes laws governing paid and unpaid family and medical leave, laws that allow pregnant women to continue working, laws that give women time to recover from childbirth, sick days, and laws that help nursing mothers.
The National Partnership for Women and Families report concluded:
The United States cannot wait any longer for public policies that honor new parents and their children. Paid leave policies, more substantial access to unpaid family and medical leave, paid sick days, pregnancy accommodation laws and other family friendly policies yield benefits for workers, families, employers, communities and the economy. Despite the imperative for change and the progress states have made over the last several years, progress has been slow. Without question, the toll taken by inaction is high.
Click here for a state-by-state analysis of workplace protections for new parents.
When my kids were born, I was fortunate to be able to take 12 weeks of mostly paid leave from my workplace. With just eight employees, my employer wasn’t required by the FMLA to give me 12 weeks off. But it did let me use my earned annual and sick leave, as well as some donated sick hours from my co-workers, so I could spend time at home with my newborn babies. I will forever be grateful for that time and the flexibility of my employer.
Do you think it’s shameful that the U.S. lags so far behind other countries when it comes to workplace protections for parents? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.