Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Maternity Leave

Keep on, Minnesota:

Rep. Sandra Masin was one of 16 house legislators to author the bill, H.F. 463, all of whom hail from the DFL party. Six of the co-authors were male. The legislation was introduced on Monday by the chief author, Minneapolis Rep. Phyllis Kahn.

The bill requires employers to grant a minimum amount of maternity leave to all women for a "reasonable period of time," with a maximum of up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave of absence for female employees disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Additionally, the employee would be entitled to use of any accrued vacation or sick leave during this period of time.

If passed, the bill would also oblige employers to provide reasonable accommodation for employees laboring under conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth, as per the woman's request or the advice of her doctor. The legislators describe "reasonable accommodation" as seating, frequent restroom breaks, and limits to heavy lifting, among other things. If possible, the employer must transfer a pregnant woman to light duty, though no employer would be required to create a job that didn't previously exist. The bill further states that employers will not be required to displace or discharge other employees to accommodate a pregnant worker.

A different perspective:
For hard-working professional women accustomed to overloaded calendars and constant communication with colleagues and customers, the isolation of maternity leave can be a shock. After the birth of my first child, I used to joke with my husband that for the sanity of new mothers an iPhone should be just as mandatory as a car seat when leaving the hospital. Yes, bonding with your baby during middle-of-the-night feedings is a wonderful thing, but when you’re stuck in a chair nursing several hours every day, that smartphone can also feel like a much-needed lifeline to the outside world.
What happens much more often, according to Mathiason, is that professional women are upset when they aren’t allowed to continue communicating with clients, directing projects or managing their teams while on leave. In fact, pregnancy-related litigation is actually up in recent years, he says, as more women come back from maternity leave, get laid off several months later for reasons that may be unrelated to their leave, and argue they weren’t kept in the loop while they were away.

Maternity leave for teens?
New Mexico's public schools will be required to grant leave to teenage parents under legislation approved by the House.
The measure will establish a statewide policy requiring at least 10 days of leave when a student gives birth. The excused absences also will be available to the child's father.
A pregnant teen or student who is a parent will receive four days of leave per semester. That's in addition to the absences allowed for all students.
Schools must provide an opportunity for students to make up the work they missed while on maternity or parenting leave.

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