There are "whole demographics" that the programs can discriminate against, says Judith Lichtman, a senior adviser with the National Partnership for Women & Families. These include women, minorities and low wage workers who are disproportionately afflicted with chronic illnesses, she says.
"Women in service jobs and clock-in jobs don't even bother asking for workplace accommodations because they are afraid to ask," said Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women and Families.
A recent report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, aptly titled Bad Medicine, looks at laws that “undermine the high-quality, patient-centered care that health care providers and advocates strive to achieve.”
“Knowing the lay of the land can provide parents with reassurance and confidence at what can be a stressful time of year,” says Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families. “All parents know that there are times when missing work is unavoidable, so knowing whether [they] have paid sick, vacation or personal time to use, and understanding employers’ rules about providing notice for using that time, is also important.”
The fight for paid sick leave requirements has picked up steam since San Francisco passed the nation’s first local paid sick leave policy in 2006. D.C. followed suit two years later, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Ask about her rates of C-section, early delivery and episiotomy, for instance, and when she typically induces labor, advises Maureen P. Corry, senior adviser for the childbirth connection program at the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Adding major insurers, with their large patient rolls and deep pockets, could start to tie these scattered efforts together, said Mark Savage, director of health information technology policy at the National Partnership for Women and Families.
However, testimony from Kevin Trapani, CEO and president of The Redwoods Group, and Maryella Gockel, flexibility leader at Ernst & Young LLP, demonstrates that such worries are misguided. Indeed, for these employers, as well as for businesses in the states that have passed paid family leave insurance laws (California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey), there has been no evidence of what witness Vicki Shabo of the National Partnership for Women & Families called the “parade of horribles”—a litany of negative business implications predicted by critics.
But that was the culmination of a difficult, nearly nine-year fight. “In the early 80s, when it was first introduced, nobody was even uttering the words work/family policy or work/life balance,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, which played a big role in crafting the FMLA.
The United States is one of only two countries that don’t guarantee paid maternity leave. The other one is Papua New Guinea, said Victoria S. Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women and Families in Washington.
Debra Ness, president of National Partnership for Women and Families, also praised the guidelines as "a much-needed interpretation of the nation's laws banning discrimination based on pregnancy."
If the bills become law, it would mean that more than 300,000 additional workers gain the right to take up to five paid sick days a year, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Although everybody needs access to paid sick time, very few actually receive it. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, about 40% private sector workers in the United States, about 40 million workers, receive no paid sick leave at all.
"There is still a stigma against hiring younger women for some jobs, where an employer wants to know somebody is going to be on a job for years without interruption," said Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families.
Vicki Shabo, Vice President at the National Partnership for Women and Families, the organization that helped create the FMLA, says if the U.S. does not pass a more comprehensive paid maternity leave plan, then it will face many consequences. “It’s not something that each family should be dealing with individually,” said Shabo. “Because it’s got consequences for the nation, it’s got consequences for the economy it’s got consequences for health and families well-being, it has consequences for businesses who are losing talented workers and facing unnecessary retention costs of turnover.”
According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, almost half of all workers eligible for FMLA leave have been unable to take time off because they simply can’t afford to go without income.
Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, called the new guidelines "a powerful tool in the effort to eradicate the unlawful and unequal treatment of pregnant women in the workplace."
“Despite existing protections, pregnancy discrimination remains a serious problem for women and families in this country,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
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