Workers In The Triangle Say Paid Parental Leave Needed. A Bill In Congress Could Help (September 22, 2017)

By: Max Diamond, The News & Observer

Kim Swanson gave birth to her first daughter in 2014. Thirteen days later, her husband lost his job. Swanson returned to work part time with plans to return full time in October. That didn’t work out. On Oct. 1, Swanson says, “My boss called me into her office and said, ‘I can’t give you your back your job.’ 

Swanson’s job wasn’t protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new parents, because her employer didn’t meet the requirements. It has been estimated that as many as 40 percent of the U.S. workforce is not eligible for FMLA because of its restrictions. Other workers who are eligible often don’t take the time off because they can’t afford to not be paid.

“This forces new mothers to choose between a paycheck and a newborn,” said Allan Freyer, director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center. “You have new moms who have very complicated pregnancies whose babies are in the ICU who have to go to work three days later. It’s a national embarrassment that we’re in that situation. We shouldn’t have to choose.”