NY PFL for Mother's Day
May 12, 2017
This time next year, moms in New York could find themselves in a very different position. As we look forward to groundbreaking Paid Family Leave (PFL) legislation, it’s hard not to think about moms, the evolution of modern motherhood, and how PFL is helping reshape its future.
Maternity Leave in America
Women working outside the home in the US has been on the rise since the mid 1970s, to a current high of just under 76%. And while these numbers continue to grow, there’s still a single Federal piece of legislation (the Family Medical Leave Act, FMLA) that protects time off after having a child. FMLA was passed in 1993, at a time when 70% of working women had children under the age of 181. (That’s 24 years that the numbers of moms working grown, while nothing else has been done to support them in the postpartum period - other than guarantee 12 unpaid weeks to bond with their newborn babies.) When FMLA was first introduced, it recommended 6 months of protected time off for new mothers - legislators at the time negotiated it down to its current level of 12 weeks.
Before 1993, there was no federal legislation mandating time off for pregnancy or childbirth, which meant state law and employer discretion determined whether women could take time off, how much it would be, if any of it would be paid, and if they would have a job when they returned to the workforce.
The Role of FMLA
Roughly 59% of American workers are covered under FMLA, and a majority of women who do qualify for it take only a portion of what is provided. Many don’t take it at all – it’s estimated that 25% of women go back to work within 10 days of having a child.
Since the year after its passage (1994), the number of women taking the FMLA benefit has remained almost exactly the same - hovering around 270,000 women each month who take paid or unpaid time off according to its provisions - even though the amount of working mothers has increased by close to 30% in that time.
Why Aren’t More Moms Taking Leave?
It’s a question without one simple answer, complicated by individual family circumstances along with demographic and socioeconomic trends. More and more women are the sole breadwinners in their families, the primary earners, or single parents and as these numbers rise, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see that leave-taking remains flat. Financial responsibilities are the primary reason women give when returning to work before having used all of their FMLA-protected maternity leave.
Why Bonding - And Leave - Matters
The period immediately following birth is a crucial time for both baby and parents. As newborns establish their foundations in the world, mom and dad re-negotiate their roles as parents, and their specific role as mom or dad to their unique child. It’s not a process that happens easily, or overnight. But when given the proper time, the benefits of bonding can be dramatic and far-reaching.
For example, when moms have time away to focus on their newborns, studies have shown marked reductions in postpartum depression, increases successful breastfeeding (beneficial to both mom and baby) and acceleration of the physical and emotional development of the child. Not to mention - a general reduction in stress levels for mom plus an increased immune system coupled with stronger confidence in her abilities as a parent.
PFL’s Role in Bonding
It’s instinctive for parents to want to bond with their babies, and the reasoning is clear. PFL is paving the way to help make bonding an opportunity for more parents around New York. By helping ease the financial concerns many parents feel about returning to work quickly after their child is born, or concerns about losing jobs or halting careers, PFL helps provide support. Having partial pay and job protection can allow parents to take the much needed time off while earning some of their paycheck to ease burdens after baby comes.
By providing protected time off with pay, PFL changes the equation for many moms who might not otherwise have been able to consider taking time off to bond with their babies. And while PFL won’t solve all of the problems moms face when it comes to balancing the rigors of work and motherhood, it will go a long way to help build a solid foundation with baby from the beginning. Read more about the benefits of bonding in our easy-to-scan infographic, or send your questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, and future moms from your friends at ShelterPoint Life!
Wondering what it's like to look ahead to NY Paid Family Leave as a brand new DMom? A while back, we asked ShelterPoint's very own new mother Becky. Read her story here.
1BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics); https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2007/02/art2full.pdf
This information is based on the current draft regulations and may change with the release of the final regulations. Got more questions? Email us at email@example.com