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On Nov. 24, the Center for American Progress, the National Women’s Law Center and the National Partnership for Women & Families hosted a webinar on pregnancy job discrimination and Young v. UPS. Several experts, including Michele Jawando, Rachel Lyons, Diane Feldman and Emily Martin, discussed the case, the historical context of pregnancy discrimination and information on how to take action—and it’s clear that Young has already made a difference for pregnant workers.
Data on the expansion of Medicaid, as policies towards maternity leave, sick days and time off from work came from the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Only 12 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers, and nearly 40 percent of private-sector workers – and 80 percent of low-wage workers – don't have a single paid sick day, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
The United States has no national paid sick day policy, which means that 40 percent of the workforce — more than 40 million private sector workers — lose income when they stay home with their kids, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
"Lack of access to paid family and medical leave in this country is a serious issue, and it deserves serious attention from Congress."
It takes barely three unpaid sick days to threaten the ability of a typical low-wage worker to afford groceries, rent and other necessities, said Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
“We’re the only economically developed country in the world that doesn’t have paid sick days,” says Vicki Shabo, a vice president at the National Partnership.
"Even employers that do have policies, about 40% of workers say they have penalties, demerits, for taking a sick day," Vice President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, Vicki Shabo said.
Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, said the law's passage represents "a pivotal moment for the country and a historic first step for California."
An April report by the National Partnership for Women and Families, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that advocates for such policies, said that at least five other U.S. cities had passed laws requiring paid sick leave.
"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.
“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.
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.
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.
The idea that women should get paid leave when they have babies started to crop up around World War I and again around World War II. Countries' populations had been decimated, which meant there was a high premium on women as economic contributors and childbearers, explains Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. She says that in the United States, in part due to fewer casualties and the fact that men returned to the labor force, there weren't the same incentives to offer women paid maternity leave.
Worker rights groups and others are campaigning for an expansion of paid sick leave rights in the private sector. So far, mandates on paid sick days have primarily been taken up by local governments, with San Francisco in 2006 becoming the first U.S. city to require it, according to the Washington-based National Partnership for Women and Families.
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