Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Caring Causes: Protecting Working Families

Mother's Day is coming up, and it's a time to reflect on the people that brought us into this world. It can also be a time to get inspired to work towards protecting families by encouraging stronger supports. A new state-by-state analysis released for Mother’s Day shows how little the nation supports and protects working mothers and fathers when a new child arrives. The report, Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help New Parents, analysis state laws and regulations governing paid leave and workplace rights for new parents in the United States. Minnesota earned only a grade of “C” for having put in place some, but not nearly enough, supportive policies that expand upon minimal federal protections. (You can read the full report to see how your state did.)  

Past research, including two recent studies commissioned by the National Partnership, shows that paid leave promotes the health and economic security of families, reduces reliance on public assistance programs, and benefits businesses through improved worker loyalty and reduced turnover. However, Expecting Better finds that no state is doing enough to provide paid family and medical leave and workplace support to new parents.

The USA ranks far behind many other nations - out of 181 studied recently, the US ranked last, along with Swaziland and Papua New Guinea. Paid leave for new mothers is guaranteed in 178 other nations, and 54 nations guarantee paid leave for new fathers. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), enacted nearly 20 years ago, provides new parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but only about half of the workforce is eligible and many cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides. 

Does that bother you? If so, stay informed about the issue, and contact your legislators and representatives, asking them to advocate for better laws for working families.

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