The Best States to Be a Working Mom

Photograph by Jasper James/Getty Images

The U.S. has notoriously poor workplace protections for new mothers. In a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center, the nation ranked last among 38 for government-protected time off. Now, a study (PDF) by the National Partnership for Women & Families takes a more detailed look within the U.S. and finds 17 states where, in the absence of federal requirements, there are no state policies to protect new parents, either.

These states are: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The National Partnership for Women & Families assigned a grade to each state based on a scoring system. States that received an F grade did not expand upon federal leave and workplace protections
Source: National Partnership for Women & Families

Vicki Shabo, a vice president at the National Partnership, says federal laws should be considered only a first step and are something states should improve upon, but “change has been slow,” she says. “So many states are failing their families.”

Not all, though: Some states have expanded access to leave and provided further workplace support to new parents. For instance, California, New Jersey, and—as of 2014—Rhode Island, provide paid leave to new parents.

Nationally, California offers the best protections on a spectrum that includes laws governing paid and unpaid family and medical leave, laws that allow pregnant women to continue working, laws that give women time to recover from childbirth, sick days, and laws that help nursing mothers.

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