Compared to virtually every other developed nation in the world, the United States lags behind with regard to family-friendly work/life policies. But how do the states measure up when examined against each other on issues such as job-protected and/or family and medical leave, pregnancy accommodations, and nursing mothers’ workplace rights? Surprisingly bad overall, according to Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help Expecting and New Parents with 27 states receiving grades of D or F. While there are shining examples of progress (California was the only A grade, while Washington D.C. and New York scored A- grades), the report highlights many states are skating by on the bare FMLA minimum. 12 states received an F grade for not acting to establish a single workplace policy to help new or expecting parents.
Eleven states improved their grades since last year, and a handful of states have focused on specific areas and expanded them, such as paid or flexible sick time, greater employee access of unpaid, yet job-protected family and medical leave, and/or paid family leave programs. The findings, however, display how the nation lacks unified policies, despite the fact that existing programs often show that paid leave generally doesn’t negatively affect employee performance and can provide benefits including increased bonding with child (for both fathers and mothers), better child care placement, and better retention of workers.
23 years have passed since FMLA was established, yet the vast majority of the states have plenty of room for improvement with regard to making the workplace a more family-friendly and supportive environment. Other findings included that low-wage parents are disproportionately affected by a lack of national family-friendly policies and are much less likely to have paid sick or vacation days, and employer-provided family leave. The report also found that African American and Latino workers were less likely to have paid sick days, flexible work hours, or access to paid leave.
Check out your state’s grade via this interactive map.
Lead image via National Partnership for Women/Expecting Better