Indiana gets D-minus for family-workplace laws

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Indiana is not a great place to start a family when it comes to workplace laws and policies, according to a new study.

A national group that pushes for fairness in the workplace gave Indiana a grade of D-minus for failing to adopt policies that support new and expecting parents.

The National Partnership for Women & Families issued a 50-state report card this month—the 23rd anniversary of the day the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, took effect.

The federal law provides for unpaid, job-protected family and medical leave. But as the study points out, the federal law is narrow. To be eligible for time off under FMLA, employees must have been on the job for at least 12 months, and must work for a government agency or a private-sector employer with 50 or more employees. There is no requirement that the employer provide paid leave.

That's why the group is pushing for states to do more. Unlike some other states, Indiana has no laws beyond the federal law that guarantee job protection or leave for new or expecting parents.

The group is a tough grader. It gave grades of D-plus or lower to more than half of all states (27).

Twelve states got an F: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Those state failed to enact a single law or program to support families before and after the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child, the study said.

Along with Indiana, the other states that got a D-minus are New Mexico, North Dakota, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Texas.

On the other end of the grading spectrum, only one state, California, got an A. New York and the District of Columbia got A-minuses.

California was cited for “its panoply of laws that help new parents, including its first-in-the-nation paid family leave law and its paid sick days law.”

In addition, “states from Maine to Oregon have expanded access to unpaid, job-protected leave so that people who are ineligible for leave under the federal FMLA can care for a spouse or partner with a pregnancy-related disability, or take a longer period of time to care for a new child than federal laws allow,” the report said.

The report was created by using a point system, based on protections provided to private sector and state employees.

Indiana got points for passing a few laws over the years:

•    All nursing mothers who work for employers with 25 or more employees must be provided a private place (other than a toilet stall) to pump breast milk, as well as cold storage space for the milk or the opportunity to bring their own storage device;

•    State workers who earn sick time can use it for the illness or injury of a family member, including the pregnancy-related illness or injury of a spouse;

•    State workers must be provided reasonable paid break time to pump breast milk at work while their children are infants.

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