CAP en Español
Small CAP Banner

How Family Leave Laws Left Out Low-Income Workers

    PRINT:
  • print icon
  • SHARE:
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Share on Google+
  • Email icon

Recent media attention has focused on professional women who have "opted out" of the paid labor market to care for their children. By contrast, the media has paid less attention to low-income women who have been required to "opt in" to the workforce over the past 10 years as a result of the nation’s overhaul of the welfare system. As women’s overall workforce participation has increased, low-wage working women have become much less likely to have access to pregnancy and family leave than their professional counterparts. This article examines the historical and legal development of this disparity. Ann O’ Leary argues that an early and prolonged commitment to a model of strict equality in the development of Title VII, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act has left many low-wage workers without pregnancy and family leave. Further, Ms. O’ Leary demonstrates that Congress did not fully consider the interplay of pregnancy and family leave laws with the welfare system when it reformed in 1996. Now, as a result of welfare reform, the current gaps in leave coverage affect too many workers for policymakers to ignore. Ms. O’ Leary proposes several reforms to correct the inequities in leave protection facing low-wage working women.

Read more here.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or lbartolomeo@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, TalkPoverty.org, faith)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Print: Elise Shulman (oceans)
202.796.9705 or eshulman@americanprogress.org

Print: Benton Strong (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.481.8142 or bstrong@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Jennifer Molina
202.796.9706 or jmolina@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org