"This is a broad-based response to what we've seen as growing momentum over the last months and years in support of public policies that address these critical issues for families," said Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families, one of the many organizations behind the #WEmatter campaign. "We're optimistic that this is going to cause public officials and traditional media to sit up and take notice, and that's a critical first step in bringing the policy changes that we need."
Nationwide, the National Partnership for Women & Families reports that adults without paid sick leave are 1.5 times more likely than workers with paid sick leave to go to work with a contagious disease.
“At this time when opponents of women’s health are taking extreme steps to deny women coverage for birth control, we applaud the Obama administration for taking steps to protect this essential coverage,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
For instance, according to a recent review of state laws conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families, five states require women seeking an abortion to be notified about the false risk of breast cancer; two states force them to learn about the supposed link between abortion and suicide.
“Requiring federal contractors to disclose (salary and demographic data) will be a tremendous step forward in helping close the wage gap,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women and Families.
However, as the National Partnership for Women and Families explains in its “Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act,” the law only applies to companies with 50 or more employees.
"In a poll conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families in 2012, 86 percent of Americans wanted some kind of paid parental leave, including 73 percent of Republican voters."
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.
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.
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."
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