working mothers

Mamas on Bedrest: The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

May 17th, 2013

It’s a sad commentary on this country when we have to introduce legislation in order for people to treat pregnant women kindly; give them a little extra help and make a few logistical allowances for them to be able to work and support themselves and their families while pregnant. Be that as it may, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has been introduced to congress and is supported by democratic senators and representatives as well as a whole host women’s advocacy groups, unions and business groups.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act  works to ensure that pregnant women are not forced out of jobs unnecessarily or denied reasonable job modifications that would allow them to continue working. Currently, pregnant working women around the country are being denied simple adjustments – permission to use a stool while working a cash register, or to carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated, or temporary reassignment to lighter duty tasks – that would keep them working and supporting their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. The bill will require that employers make reasonable adjustments while also barring employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Really?? You mean to tell me that if you are an employer and have an employee who is pregnant and a cashier, you can’t get her a stool? You’d rather fire her?  Employers are unwilling to allow their employees to have water bottles to stay hydrated? (This is important for all employees, not just the pregnant ones!!) What type of country do we live in??

While I appreciate this legislation, I am saddened and sickened that it even has to be introduced. Where has simple human decency gone? Okay, let’s just put pregnancy aside for a moment. You mean to tell me that if you have a loyal employee who suddenly becomes stricken with a medical condition (either temporary or permanent) but who is committed to doing the job, you’d rather fire him or her rather than make some minor adjustments to their work environment? I completely understand if the employee is unable to perform most of the duties of the position, then it only makes sense to replace him/her. But in the case of a cashier, if you can provide a stool you’ll keep a trusted, productive employee! In a recent blog post, I related how the Center for American Progress estimates that if an employee makes $30,000 to $75,000 annually, it costs employers approximately 20% of an ex-employee’s annual salary to replace that person. If the employee makes less than $30,000 annually, then the cost to replace him/her is approximately 16% of the annual salary. And for highly paid executives, the costs to replace them skyrockets.

Isn’t it just easier to make a few adjustments?

Kinda makes me wonder, are we really talking about money, or is this yet another battle in the war on working women, forcing us to once again choose-career or family? Why should it ever be a choice?

Mamas on Bedrest: National Paid Sick Leave is a Closer Reality!

March 20th, 2013

I am an ardent supporter paid sick leave for US workers. The United States is one of only 4 countries world wide that offers no sort of paid leave for maternity, medical illness/treatment or to care for an ill family member. While most of us will agree that the United States offers unparalleled employment opportunities, it is shocking and disturbing that the US does nothing to support its workers when they or those they love fall ill.

I suppose with so many workers to choose from, there is no incentive to be loyal to employees. The US unemployment rate is still over 7% and there are many people willing to work for wages well below what they are worth and take jobs well below their skill set in order to simply secure a job and meet the needs of their families. It’s a very precarious work environment.

But I am still baffled as to why employers are so averse to supporting their employees.  According to the Center for American Progress, when an employee who earns $50,000 per year leaves a company-regardless of whether they leave voluntarily or are asked to leave-the cost to replace that employee is approximately 20% of that person’s annual salary. In the US, approximately 75% of the workforce earns $50,000 or less annually.  Likewise, if the employee earns $75,000 per year and leaves, the employer again has to spend approximately 20% of that employee’s salary or roughly $15,000 to replace that employee. Now considering that 9 out of 10 employees in the United States earns less than $75,000 annually, this can have substantial ramifications if a company has a high turnover rate. The Center for American Progress notes that the cost to replace a worker who makes less than $30,000 annually is slightly less, approximately 16%, yet lower waged service workers are often those with the highest turnover as they seek to increase their annual earnings. And not surprising, the cost to replace an executive or professional employee can be as high as 213% of the employee’s annual salary! Wouldn’t it simply make sense for employers to offer their employees better benefit packages that included health benefits, paid time off and flexible working schedules?

This is a situation that I closely watch for Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. Many, many mamas have contacted me and my colleagues distraught because of mounting debt and job loss due to being placed on prescribed bed rest. As a result, I do what I can to advocate for paid family leave including presenting cases to Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) with my friend, colleague and the Executive Director of Better Bedrest Joanie Reisfeld, supporting the Paid Medical Leave Initiatives advocated for by the National Partnership for Women and Families, Working Mother Magazine and MomsRising and educating women and families about their leave options.  According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, To date:

The Portland City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that will let tens of thousands of workers in Portland earn the paid sick days they need. The bill is awaiting signature from Mayor Hales, making the bill law, and making Portland the fourth city to provide paid sick days.

The Philadelphia City Council, once again, approved a similar measure that would guarantee Philadelphians the same right. Hopefully Philadelphia Mayor Nutter, who vetoed the paid sick days bill in 2011, will take a second look and sign this common sense proposal.

Laws are already in place and working well in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Connecticut. And there are dozens of efforts to advance similar proposals across the country, including in New York City, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Given the economic benefits to companies and the benefits to working families, paid medical leave just makes sense. We Mamas on Bedrest know this, economists know this, advocates know this and yet the fight continues. Hopefully corporate CEO’s and lawmakers will evaluate the data and see that paid medical leave just makes sense. As the Center for American Progress noted,

“This brief documents that the cost of employee turnover for businesses is high, regardless of the level of wages being paid to the departing or incoming employees. Companies typically pay about one-fifth of an employee’s salary to replace that employee. While it costs businesses more to replace their very-highest-paid employees, the costs for most employers remains significant and does become less significant for those with low earnings.

Workplace policies that improve employee retention can help companies reduce their turnover costs. Family-friendly policies such as paid family leave and workplace flexibility help retain valuable employees who need help balancing work and family. For example, research has found that access to any form of parental leave makes women more likely to return to work after giving birth. Moreover, by 2050 up to 20 percent of Americans will be older than age 65, and improved leave policies would allow workers to provide the care their elderly parents may need without having to sacrifice their livelihoods.”

Mamas on Bedrest: 30 Must-Read Blogs for Moms Who Are Returning to Work

March 8th, 2013

Mama working with babyToday’s blog is a guest post from Share a Nanny. Share a Nanny is a blog that shares all the pertinent information parents need if they are interested in sharing a nanny. The blogs range from “Reasons to Share a Nanny” to “Sharing Challenges”. If you are a parent preparing to go back to work after having a baby, you should most definitely check out some of the blogs and links below. Enjoy and Thanks to Share a Nanny for sharing this very timely information.

Whether you are a mom returning to work after a new baby or a long term absence from the work force, you will probably feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety. This is normal, as there are so many things you need to adjust to that didn’t exist before you had children. Now you have organizing childcare, missing valuable bonding time with your child and a whole host of other concerns running through your head.

Moms Returning to Work from Maternity Leave

Maternity leave, no matter how long the duration, will go by in the blink of an eye. Leaving your baby with a stranger and not being able to monitor her constantly will be hard. However, with the right planning and support, you can return to work safe in the knowledge that both you and your baby are in good hands.

Maintaining the Bond with Your Child

Returning to work does not mean you are abandoning your child. Although you will spend less time with her, there are ways that you can keep your bond strong. Bear in mind, this is important for the emotional wellbeing of both the parent and child.

Employer Support for Moms Returning to Work

Your employer has an important role to play in helping you integrate back into the work place. There are a number of ways in which your employer can support you. If you need retraining, reduced or flexible hours or your child has special needs, you should speak to either your employer or human resources department.  These five blogs will help arm you with the confidence and knowledge to approach your employer for help.

Career Advice for Moms Returning to Work

An obvious concern for moms returning to work, especially those who have been out of work long term, is how their career path is affected. Some moms may want to continue on their previous path, while others may want to move upwards or sideways into a different department, or take a reduction in hours. It’s often hard for moms to decide which way to go for fear that it won’t work out.  Another concern for moms returning to work is whether they will be able to adapt to all the changes in processes since they were last part of the workforce. It is for these reasons that moms returning to work will benefit from career advice.

Training and Education for Moms Returning to Work

In today’s fast paced industries, job descriptions and qualifications are constantly changing. As a mom returning to work, this can mean stepping into territory that, although once familiar, is now completely foreign to you. Your aptitude for the work may not have changed at all, however, you no longer have the required tools to perform in the role to your full potential. It is for this reason that further training and education are something to seriously consider before returning to work.

Managing Home and Work-Life

As a working mom, your life becomes somewhat of a balancing act between home and work-life. A full time job, whether it is in a traditional work place or at home looking after a child, is difficult enough to manage on its own. You need to learn how to manage both without causing detriment to your health. These five blogs provide advice on how to manage as a working mom, including tips from career-moms who have been in the same position.