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Florida's family leave policies don't help new parents: Part II

Earlier this week, we began a discussion about a new report published by the National Partnership for Women & Families. It grades each state on how well its family-leave laws and local programs benefit new parents when they require time off from work.

According to the report, there are just a few federal laws under which new parents can seek job protection. These address pregnancy discrimination, the rights of nursing mothers and family/medical leave. Therefore, it is up to states to implement more progressive policies in this area. As we wrote in our previous post, Florida received a D rating, which means that the state as a whole is barely passing and there is much room for improvement.

Florida's state workers do enjoy greater rights than are afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Specifically, qualifying workers are afforded more time off than the 12 weeks allotted in the FMLA, and leave eligibility is not contingent on their work tenure.

Unfortunately, Florida's private sector workers do not fare this well. According to the report, Florida has no laws that expand federal rights/protections to workers in the private sector.

Many have argued that measures like expanding leave time, providing paid time off and increasing employment protections for new and expecting parents is mutually beneficial for families and businesses. On the business side, the benefits include improved worker retention, better employee health and higher morale.

The birth of one's children should be among their happiest moments. But unless Florida and the rest of the nation work to improve our family-leave laws, job stress and anxiety about the future will continue to weigh on the hearts and minds of new parents.

Source: Fox News, "New report card on family leave: Many states fail," Laurie Tarkan, May 31, 2012

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