In an unusual measure of united support, studies show that most Americans believe that some type of family leave should be an option for workers. In California, in addition to federal Family and Medical Leave Act benefits, workers are offered up to six weeks of paid family leave. Other states are looking to California and others like it as they begin to develop their own programs, and perhaps that momentum will build to a national protocol for maternity leave.
One study shows that over 75 percent of Americans support some form of family leave, although they may have differing opinions of how to accomplish this goal. California led the pack of states by including paid family leave beginning in 2004. Almost 15 years of lessons from the state and others have helped new states begin to adopt and develop policies of their own.
Although the original version of the FMLA called for 26 weeks of unpaid leave, it was eventually reduced to 12 weeks. This policy is national and extends to all workers in qualifying jobs across the country. Research indicates that longer parental leave usually indicates better outcomes for parents and children in the long term.
California workers are sheltered under two family leave programs, the federal FMLA and the state paid leave program. Women in the state who become pregnant can expect to be eligible for maternity leave without endangering their job. A woman who has found difficulty in receiving her mandatory family leave or who has been penalized for seeking leave may wish to consult with an experienced employment law attorney for more advice on the subject.
Source: Slate, “The national fight for paid leave has moved to statehouses.“, Rebecca Gale, May 2, 2018