A groundbreaking new paid family leave law went into effect in California on July 1, making it easier for employees to spend time with new infants or to care for ailing relatives. The family leave law provides employees with up to 55 percent of their regular pay for up to six weeks of leave time. This law, a first in this country in terms of national social policy, will cover 13 million Californians, or nearly one-tenth of the American workforce. The United States is one of only five countries that does not offer paid leave for new mothers, out of a study of 169 countries done by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), according to The Washington Times.
At least 300,000 employees will take advantage of the new work benefits this upcoming year, and the vast majority of the 2,000 people who have already applied to the paid family leave program will be doing so to care for a newborn, according to the Oakland Tribune. Proponents of the law applaud the measure for acknowledging the changing face of the nuclear family, including increasing numbers of single-parent homes. “Mom isn’t home baking chocolate chip cookies waiting for the school bus to come home anymore. Workplaces have to reflect the lives we live,” said Netsy Firestein, director of the Labor Project for Working Families at University of California, Berkeley, according to the Oakland Tribune. The HSPH study emphasizes the health benefits that both newborns and new mothers experience when at least one parent is able to take some leave from work.
Paid leave is funded through a 0.08 percent payroll tax that amounts to a mere $4 a month on average, according to the Los Angeles Times. While the tax brings in about $129.3 million, the paid family leave program is estimated to cost between $300 million to $400 million per year. The paid leave program, however, neglects to provide job protection and return rights for employees who elect to take leave, the Oakland Tribune reports. Additionally, although California employees have been paying taxes toward this law since the beginning of January, only 22 percent of Californians were even aware that the law existed. Women of child-bearing age were among the most likely not to know about the new law, according to Ruth Milkman, director of the University of California-Los Angeles Institute of Industrial Relations, according to KaiserNetwork.org.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .