If you’ve read my other posts about family-friendly workplaces, you’ll know that the 12 month stipulation on the Family Medical Leave Act is a problem for me. The Ohio Supreme Court is currently reviewing a discrimination claim that could have a huge impact on women in the state. The suit deals with the policy of some companies to deny all leave until an employee has gained 12 months of tenure. A woman working for a nursing home was fired after taking doctor-prescribed leave during her pregnancy because she had only worked there 8 months.
Because the Ohio Law applies to all people regardless of sex, some of the justices think that the law is fair,
“(The policy) seems to be very evenhanded,” Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger said. “It says to all employees, male and female, that no employee may get leave in the first year.”
I think this is very narrow-minded and forgets 2 very important factors. 1. Only women can become pregnant and thus a law like this places undue burden on a specific segment of society (women of child-bearing age) which fulfills the definition of discrimination. 2. They are missing the much larger point that everyone benefits from good prenatal care and other family-friendly workplace policies
. Companies that claim that maternity (or parental) leave would cost too much are forgetting the cost of not retaining good employees. Studies have shown
that with regard to sick leave in general, there is an estimated net savings
– even after factoring in the cost to employers of the sick leave – when turnover costs are considered. In California it was estimated that employers would save total $2,295 million annually, from reduced costs of turnover if sick leave were paid.
Companies denying needed pregnancy and maternity leave* is very short-sighted and shows where our country puts its true value (hint hint: $ not people).
*I use maternity leave to mean specifically the “period of incapacitation” following birth. I certainly believe that parental leave for infant bonding is important but it is an even greater travesty that we don’t even have basic maternity leave for birth recovery or pregnancy leave for complications. If we can’t solve the basic health issues that these present then we are far from universal parental leave.
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