Adopting Maternity Leave
October 15, 2007
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is considering clarifying Ohio rules to ensure that all pregnant women are guaranteed at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Policy Matters conducted a review of current literature on maternity leave in order to help inform the Commission’s decision on this issue. Twelve weeks is a minimum acceptable amount of time for women to give birth, recover, rest, get post-natal care, begin breastfeeding, bond with their babies, and provide for initial neo-natal follow-up care and immunizations. When employers do not provide sufficient maternity leave, women often return to work before they or their newborns are ready, or they leave their jobs. Forcing women to choose between motherhood and their livelihood is not good for society, children, women, or employers. Providing unpaid leave, on the other hand, is a modest burden for employers. In fact, 83 percent of all workers nationally already have access to unpaid family leave. Adequate maternity leave provisions benefit employers, women, children, and society increasing job retention and reducing employee turnover, increasing labor productivity by diversifying the labor force, and increasing the health and well-being of women and their children. The Civil Rights Commission should follow the lead of 18 other states and the national government, and provide a clear standard for maternity leave for all pregnant employees.