With Congress set to vote on a bill that would extend maternity leave to more women in the US, there’s been a lot of talk about how to make it better for women.
However, one of the most significant changes that’s been proposed would allow women to be paid less for doing work that pays less.
According to the Associated Press, the bill would give employers the right to withhold maternity leave if they want to.
It would also allow employees to take unpaid time off during their pregnancy and childbirth to care for a sick child, a family member, or even just a personal reason, such as the flu.
The proposed legislation has been met with criticism from the medical community, as well as by many women who feel that they aren’t getting paid enough for the work they do.
“Women who do all their work while pregnant and caring for a child should not be forced to take time off work to care,” said Dr. Jennifer Wiegley, a professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health.
“It would put women in a position where they would not be able to make a living wage for the labor they are required to do.”
Wiegly has called on Congress to extend the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is $2.15 less than the current federal rate.
She has also called on the government to allow workers to work part-time to help them take care of their families.
According the AP, “If it passes, women would be able, as in the last few decades, to earn as little as $10.75 an hour.
That’s about the same as the average wage of a full-time worker.”
But the legislation also proposes a $2,500 fine for anyone who is paid less than a federal minimum of $10 per hour.
“The pay gap in the U.S. is still too large,” said Jessica Gaskin, a senior policy analyst at the National Partnership for Women & Families.
“In the U, it’s about $4,000, which means if you are a mom, you are making less than that, too.
If you are in a single-parent household, you’re making less.”
According to a 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 percent of pregnant women report that they have to take paid leave for reasons beyond their control, including childbirth or maternity.
According a 2016 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, only 4 percent of women ages 20 to 44 who were paid full- or part-pay by their employer said that they had taken unpaid leave to care at home.
The study also found that nearly a third of women who took leave said they were not sure if they would return to work.
But the proposed legislation also includes a provision that would allow employers to use their discretion in determining if a woman should be paid more or less for the time she takes off to care.
For instance, an employer could determine that it is better to pay women more than full-pay because of their work-related conditions.
According NPR, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a report titled “Taking Paid Leave for Motherhood and Pregnant Women,” which found that the pay gap among women with and without children is still significant.
The report said that while the average pay gap between women and men is around $7,000 per year, the pay gaps are not equal when it comes to the costs of care.
“There is a real need for more policies that allow women in paid family leave to participate in this type of work, while also recognizing that this work can help create better working conditions for families and communities,” said Gaskins.
Wiegle also pointed out that the proposed changes are being proposed in part because employers are hesitant to hire women.
“They’re worried that women will be left behind if they start working full- and part-timers,” she said.
“That’s why we’re seeing this push to make sure women have a say in how their families are managed.”
Read the full AP article here.