Kansas earns a grade of “D” for its policies.
A new state-by-state analysis released two days before the 23rd anniversary of the day the federal Family and Medical Leave Act took effect shows that few states have expanded upon the FMLA’s unpaid leave protections or adopted other supports to assist expecting and new parents who are employed — and Kansas is providing almost none of the critical help families need.
“Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help Expecting and New Parents” is the most comprehensive analysis to date of state laws and regulations governing paid leave and other workplace rights for expecting and new parents in the United States. Kansas earns a grade of “D” for its policies.
The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The full study grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their passage of select laws that offer greater leave or workplace protections than federal law provides.
California is the only state to receive an “A.” The District of Columbia and New York earn grades of “A-,” and 11 states earn grades of “B.”
However, 10 states earn grades of “C,” 15 states earn grades of “D,” and 12 states receive grades of “F” for failing to enact a single workplace policy to help expecting or new parents.
“Despite some meaningful progress, too many working families in this country struggle at the very time they should be focused on giving children their best possible starts in life. Twenty-three years after the country took its first major step to help people manage job and family by implementing a national unpaid family and medical leave law, our new study reveals that people in too few states are guaranteed access to paid leave and other workplace protections they urgently need,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, which drafted and led the fight for the FMLA. “At this time when women are both caregivers and breadwinners, and when voters want and need supportive workplace policies, too many lawmakers are letting them down. America’s families expect and deserve much better.”
The poor grades are striking, Ness continued, considering women make up nearly half of the country’s workforce, and 68 percent of children live in households in which all parents are employed. As “Expecting Better” argues, the nation’s public policies have not kept pace with the changing demographics and pressures affecting families, workplaces and our economy today — and low-wage parents and parents of color suffer disproportionately.
Public support for family friendly policies like paid family and medical leave, paid sick days and pregnancy accommodations is strong, as is voters’ favorable opinion of elected officials who advance them. A growing body of evidence shows that these policies promote the health and economic security of families while strengthening businesses and the economy.
Yet the new study finds that lawmakers in most states have done too little or nothing to expand upon minimum federal protections. However, 11 states and the District of Columbia did improve their grades since the 2014 edition of Expecting Better.
The first edition of Expecting Better was released in 2005. As the fourth edition notes, over the past 11 years key workplace policies have been adopted in:New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, which joined California in enacting paid family leave programs California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia, which enacted laws guaranteeing workers the right to earn paid sick days Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin, which expanded workers’ access to unpaid, job-protected family and medical leave Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, which expanded workers’ access to flexible use of sick time Twelve states and the District of Columbia, which passed laws requiring employers to provide pregnant women with reasonable workplace accommodations At least 10 states and the District of Columbia, which have enacted laws to protect the rights of nursing mothers in the workplace