For many people, the birth of a child and starting a family is something to be celebrated; it’s an event that brings excitement to friends and family members. A growing family, however, can present some difficulties for parents. Time at work can be missed due to pregnancy and paternity/maternity leave can create financial hardship and stress on new or expanding families.
There are some safeguards in place to help parents. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provides federal protection for employed family members during some of life’s biggest challenges including pregnancy and childbirth. As a nation, improvements are being made to the way pregnancy discrimination (including maternity leave), paid time off, disability pay, and related topics are handled.
According to a recent national report entitled “Expecting Better,” by the National Partnership for Women and Families, many states have implemented their own legislation beyond the federal laws and acts to help families – particularly focusing on women.
Utah is not one of these states.
The report gave letter grades to each state based on the programs and laws that they offered new parents and the National Partnership for Women and Families considered each state’s effort to go beyond what the national government offered when issuing letter grades. Utah’s grade? F.
The state of Utah does not offer any additional protections beyond the minimum federally mandated benefits for new and expecting parents in the private sector. State workers also suffer as they “do not have parental or pregnancy disability leave rights or protections beyond those provided by the federal FMLA,” according to the study. The state does, however, offer “flexible” use of sick time for state employees which can be used in times of child birth as well as in instances of serious illness for a spouse, child, or parent living in the employee’s home.
To put things in perspective, California, the only state to get an “A” grade, offers a lot more than the FMLA minimum. California provides disability insurance to people both in the private and public sectors for pregnancy and child birth, among other things. They also offer job protected family and medical leave.
Takepart.com further expanded on the negative rating Utah received by indicating that the state has not taken any action beyond FMLA, the Pregnancy Discrimination act of 1987, and a newer law requiring nursing moms be allowed additional breaks during the day, all of which are federal laws. With these findings, the report ranked Utah as one of the 17 worst states to live in for new mothers.
Utah is not the only state to receive a failing grade. Neighboring states Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada also received failing grades, in addition to a few others across the nation, While national leaders, regardless of party affiliation, are working to increase the avenues available to new parents, it appears that Utah leaders are standing still. Little is being offered to new moms that goes above and beyond national standards, and the necessary help isn’t being provided.