Only a handful of states are going above and beyond to make life easier for new and expecting parents, according to a new report.
Ten states and the District of Columbia received a grade of B or better for their family-friendly policies that go beyond federal rights and protections, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families. A dozen states flunked the family-friendly test outright, with no additional laws beyond what the federal government requires.
The federal laws don’t go far enough, the organization says, because they don’t meet the needs of today’s working families. Women make up half the U.S. workforce and more than two-thirds of children live in households with two working parents.
“A woman’s income loss during pregnancy or parental leave can have significant and even devastating consequences for her family,” the report states. “The nation’s public policies fail to address these realities.”
The organization looked at legal rights for both private-sector and public employees. It awarded points to states that have the following family-friendly policies:
- Parental leave: This guarantees job protection or pay beyond the Federal and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for employees who take leave to care for a new child.
- Family leave: This guarantees job protection or pay beyond FMLA for employees who leave to care for a spouse or partner disabled from pregnancy or childbirth.
- Maternity or medical leave: This guarantees job protection or pay beyond FMLA for birth mothers who take time off before or after childbirth.
- Paid sick days: This allows workers to earn paid sick time that can be used for pregnancy or childbirth.
- Flexible use of sick time: This requires employer-provided sick, vacation or personal leave to be available for caring for a new child or ill spouse/partner.
- Pregnancy accommodations: This guarantees pregnant women receive reasonable accommodations at work.
- Nursing mothers’ workplace rights: Those laws that exceed federal standards that enable new mothers to pump breast milk after they return to work.
Eleven states and Washington, D.C., improved their grades compared to 2014 after enacting new laws. New York passed a pregnancy accommodation law and became the fourth state with a paid family leave program. Washington, D.C., also passed a pregnancy accommodation law and now provides paid family leave for its government employees.
California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont enacted paid sick days laws, while Colorado, Delaware, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Utah passed pregnancy accommodation laws. The laws in Delaware, Nebraska and Utah also include nursing mothers’ workplace rights.
On the flip side, the states awarded no points and given a failing grade by the organization were Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming. The remaining 25 states landed somewhere in the middle, having passed some family-friendly policies but not enough for the National Partnership for Women & Families to rank them B or higher.