13 because few companies pay for maternity or

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13 Because few companies pay for maternity or paternity leave, there is a low likelihood that new parents can afford to stop working. 14 There is also the potential that maternity leave laws could encourage businesses to discrim- inate against women who are, or who are likely to become, pregnant, because hiring pregnant women potentially leaves companies temporarily short-staffed, and saddled with higher medical costs and possibly higher wage costs. Since 1993, most workers are covered by the federal government s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law gives eligible workers 12 weeks of unpaid time off during the fi rst 12 months after birth to care for a newborn. 15 Not all workers are covered because eligibility for FMLA is based on meeting 3 criteria: length of employment ( > 1 year), hours worked ( > 1250 hours in past 12 months), and employer size ( > 50 workers). In 2006, the state of Washington enacted a law providing an additional 12 weeks of time off beyond the FMLA s requirements for workers at large companies in that state. 16 California enacted paid time off for newborn care in 2002, which took effect in July 2004. California s system is part of the state disability insurance program and pro- vides a maximum of 6 weeks of paid leave. Research suggests that this policy lowered the number of cases of pediatric head trauma in California, a leading cause of fatal child abuse. 17 Following California, 3 other states also enacted paid family leave laws Washington in 2007, New Jersey in 2008, and Rhode Island in 2013. 18 More states and some cities are contemplating paid family leave policies, with New York State implementing a policy ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jay L. Zagorsky is an economist and research scientist at The Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research, Columbus. Correspondence should be sent to Jay L. Zagorsky, PhD, The Ohio State University, 921 Chatham Lane, Suite 200, Columbus, OH 43221 (e-mail: [email protected]). Reprints can be ordered at by clicking the Reprints link. This article was accepted December 3, 2016. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303607 460 Research Peer Reviewed Zagorsky AJPH March 2017, Vol 107, No. 3 AJPH RESEARCH
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starting in 2018. The issue was part of the 2016 US presidential campaign, with DonaldTrump promising to provide 6 weeks of paid leave to new mothers. 19 Washington State s law is not effective because of a lack of funding. 20 Rhode Island provides only 4 weeks of paid time off and New Jersey provides 6 weeks. Some new parents may be reluctant to use these paid bene fi ts. One problem is highlighted by the state of New Jersey s Web site, which states that Family Leave Insurance does not protect anyone s job, 21 leaving some workers vulnerable to losing their jobs when caring for a newborn.
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