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Policy Update: February 6, 2015

BC Logo_SquareHere is a quick look back at events this week impacting women and families, from Valerie Young, a public policy analyst with Mom-mentum.

Pro-family policies matter to all parents, of course, fathers as much as mothers.  Many dads were in the room for the Men, Fathers, and Work Family Balance briefing at the Center for American Progress this week, some of them with brand new babies strapped to their chests.  Men more than women at work are more likely to have access to flexible schedules, and the number of offices offering paternity leave are growing, but men face a lot of social pressure to still behave as if fathering consists mostly of earning an income.  However, the data reveal that when men get in the action early, with lots hands on caring from the very first weeks and months, they become just as attuned to their children and effective as caregivers as moms.  Their early competence and confidence leads to more cared sharing in the long term.  Watch the video of the event at the link above, and read the report here.

Maryland’s earned sick days bill is working its way through the state legislature and drew a packed house this week as the Senate Finance Committee chewed it over.  If passed, it would only apply to businesses with at least 10 employees, and would grant 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  States are passing their own bills because the US Congress has refused to act on the Healthy Families Act for over a decade.  The HFA would offer 7 paid sick days a year to eligible employees – it will be introduced in both chambers on the Hill next week, by Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Rose DeLauro, long-time champions of pro-parental and pro-caregiver policies.

President Obama sent his 2015 budget to Congress this week, and backed up his plans for child care and paid leave as outlined in his State of the Union address.  The budget designates significant public investments in expanding access to high quality pre-school programs and encouraging states to set up paid family leave systems for new parents, and those who care for elder or ill family members, or those with disabilities.

The New Republic published Labor Pains with the tag line “More women than ever are having babies at the peak of their careers.  When will we stop punishing them for it?”  Pregnancy discrimination claims continue to run rampant, as reported by Bryce Covert in Think Progress:  “Complaints of pregnancy discrimination have been growing. They rose 65 percent between 1992 and 2007, and 3,400 were filed with the EEOC last year. A handful of states have passed Pregnant Worker Fairness Acts that require employers to give women accommodations, but a federal bill that’s been introduced multiple times hasn’t moved forward.”

Follow Valerie on Facebook (Your (Wo)Man in Washington) and Twitter (@WomanInDC) and find her on the blog at Mom-mentum.

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