18 States Receive A Big Fat ‘F’ Grade For Accomodating Working Parenthood

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Maternity leave laws certainly weren’t something to be celebrated in the United States this past Mother’s Day weekend — among many other factors that don’t accommodate the essential raising of children. While laws protecting the rights of pregnant women in the workplace would certainly be an improvement, such legislation doesn’t even come close to addressing the wealth of other needs by parents, including job-protected leave, nursing rights, and flexible use of sick leave.

The National Partnership for Women & Families released a report that analyzes all of the aforementioned including family leave, medical leave, pregnancy disability leave, reasonable break times, and small necessities leave. From there, the organization doled a grade for each state and if America was a kindergarten class, let me just say that many of us would not be promoted to the first grade.

maternity leave lawsOnly California and Connecticut are the “A” students among us, with a total of 18 states receiving a capital “F.” The report, entitled “Expecting Better: A State-By-State Analysis Of Laws That Help Parents,” outlines the problem as one of archaic laws in modern times:

America’s workforce has changed, but the nation’s public policies have not kept pace. Women and mothers are a permanent fixture in the workforce — and odds are slim that after a child’s birth its mother will stay home full time while its father works as the family’s sole breadwinner. Seventy-two percent of women work at some point before giving birth to a first child; among women who worked during pregnancy, 73 percent return to work within six months of giving birth.8 Seventy-seven percent of mothers with children under the age of six and 78 percent of mothers with elementary- to high-school-age children work outside the home.9 In fact, 71 percent of children live in households where all parents work.

The report’s authors further articulate that in the majority of households (six out of 10), women are the primary or co-breadwinners. In lower income families, a woman’s earnings are absolutely essential to her family’s ability to remain financially afloat. And yet our current policies have yet to acknowledge this fundamental shift in American families.