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The Best and Worst States to Be a Working Mother

Some states offer new parents and families additional protections in the workplace, on top of federal protections. Many, however, do not. How does your state stack up?

(Photo Credit: National Partnership for Women and Families)

The National Partnership for Women and Families published a report, Expecting Better, comparing and contrasting state laws and the treatment of working mothers and families. Each state received a letter grade from A through F. WalletHub put together a similar body of research using additional criteria and came to similar, but not identical, conclusions state by state.

Federal Requirements

The Federal government has three laws that protect working mothers. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, and a provision of the 2010 healthcare reform laws, which expands the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act to protect mothers who want to continue breastfeeding after returning to work.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows new parents twelve workweeks of unpaid leave in any twelve month period for the birth (or adoption) of a child.

State Laws

Seventeen states have no additional laws protecting working mothers and families, and the National Partnership gave them an F: 

  • Alabama, 
  • Arizona, 
  • Delaware, 
  • Georgia, 
  • Idaho, 
  • Kansas, 
  • Michigan, 
  • Mississippi, 
  • Missouri, 
  • Nebraska, 
  • Nevada, 
  • North Dakota, 
  • Oklahoma, 
  • South Carolina, 
  • South Dakota, 
  • Utah, and 
  • Wyoming.

Lack of job guarantees and the absence of paid leave threatens families with financial stress even if they have planned ahead. For example, a complicated birth or medical issues after birth threaten new families with financial ruin at a time they need security the most.

California is the only state that received an A grade from the National Partnership, making it the number one best state to be working mother. WalletHub, on the other hand, included variables such as daycare quality and cost in its criteria. California slips down to no. eight in WalletHub's report -- still not too shabby.

With seventeen F grades and only one A, perhaps we need to rethink how we treat families in the workplace.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think new parents should have more job security and paid leave? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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