Momentum growing for mandatory paid leave policies



(The Center Square) – A North Carolina law that took effect in July grants all state employees paid maternity leave, including teachers and other school employees.

The change, which allows up to eight paid weeks off for mothers and four for fathers, along with prorated paid leave for part-time employees, is an acknowledgement of the benefits the policy provides for employers and the state’s economy.

Those benefits include improved incomes for families, decreased maternal stress, more parental engagement and job satisfaction, as well as improved recruitment for employers, higher likelihood employees return to work, and reduced turnover costs, according to Family Forward NC, “an innovate initiative to improve children’s health and well-being and keep North Carolina’s businesses competitive.”

The nonprofit points to research that shows 75% of moms and 50% of dads have passed up work opportunities, or switched or quit jobs, to care for their children to highlight the importance of maternity policies.

While North Carolina is not among 13 states and the District of Columbia that have enacted mandatory paid leave policies, there’s growing momentum from local governments and private employers incorporating maternal leave policies across the state.

“It’s feeling increasingly inevitable” North Carolina will adopt mandatory paid maternity leave, said Ana Pardo, co-director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center.

Pardo convenes a statewide consortium of two dozen organizations called North Carolina Families Care that have been leading the charge, recruiting a couple dozen local government employers over the last six years while working toward a statewide policy.

“We think it’s great employers are opting to do this,” she said. “I have yet to see an employer implement a policy and roll it back.”

New research from California Maternity Leave Consulting is highlighting which employers are stepping up, ranking 14 private sector industries by the share of workers with access to paid family leave or flexible workplace options.

“Efforts to expand access to paid family leave in the U.S. have been highly successful in recent years,” according to the report. “Since 2010, the share of workers in the U.S. with access to paid family leave has nearly tripled, from 10% to 27%. That share has more than doubled just since 2017, when 13% of workers had access to paid family leave.”

The data ranks finance and insurance at the top, with 57% of workers with access to paid family leave and 33% with flexible workplace options, followed by the information industry at 55% and 19%, respectively.

Conversely, the accommodation and food service industry ranked last, with only 7% of workers with access to paid family leave and none with flexible workplace options. Other industries with less than 20% of workers with access to paid leave include construction, administrative and support services, transportation and warehousing, and real estate.

Other included in the rankings include utility employers with 48% of workers with access to paid leave; 40% for those in the professional, scientific and technical services; 35% for educational services employees; 30% for wholesale and manufacturing workers; and 31% for those working in health care and social services.



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