COLUMBIA, SC (WLTX) -- A new report by the National Partnership for Women & Families called "Expecting Better," has ranked South Carolina among the worst in the country for supporting working moms and dads during pregnancy and after birth.
Their study focuses on laws (or lack of laws) that aim to protect working parents, like family-friendly policies for paid sick or family leave days, paid medical leave, all intended to prevent financial hardships many face when raising a family.
Especially of concern is the impact on low-wage or hourly employees, who are at the highest risk of financial crisis when it comes to bringing a new child into the world. Those who have low pay, often without unpaid maternity leave, are also saddled with the challenge of insurance coverage, as many employers do not provide healthcare coverage.
The report cites the following example:
Employers' failure to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers gained national attention after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled against a former United Parcel Service (UPS) employee named Peggy Young. She needed to avoid lifting more than 20 pounds during part of her pregnancy, so she requested a light duty assignment as an accommodation. UPS denied her request, even though it had a policy of granting light duty to other workers who were temporarily unable to perform their jobs — employees injured on the job and individuals with a qualifying disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The court held that UPS did not discriminate against Young in violation of the PDA, because its policy was based on "pregnancy-blind" factors. This decision, and numerous other complaints from pregnant women across the country, has given rise to new momentum to pass pregnancy accommodation laws federally and at the state and local levels.
At least 181 countries worldwide guarantee paid leave to women for childbirth, along with 81 countries having guarantees of paid paternity leave for the fathers. "The United States can and do much better," according to the executive summary in the report.
For the state of South Carolina, the group took a look at statistics of state policies affecting new parents in the workforce, a guarantee of pregnancy accommodations for expectant mothers, job protection under a state-level family leave act, and paid family and medical leave.
South Carolina received an F.
State laws do not expand upon federal rights or protections for new and expecting parents working in the private sector.
State employees do not have pregnancy or parental disability leave rights or protections, outside those under federal rights.
However, one positive note for South Carolina's state employees was included in the report: State workers that earn sick time are permitted flexible use of those sick days, allowing up to 10 days to care for an ill spouse, child, parent, sibling, legal guardian, grandparent, or grandchild.
We weren't the only state to receive an "F" on the report, 16 other states also failed, many for similar reasons.