Should new moms be paid to spend six weeks off work, caring for their new-borns? One bill that's been prefiled in the Kentucky legislature, would make that paid maternity leave mandatory for some businesses. However, some women believe that could come at too great a price for businesses' bottom lines, and hurt women in the workplace.
- A bill would require employers with at least 50 employees in Kentucky to give 6 weeks paid maternity leave for new moms, if they've been employed for at least one year.
- A federal law already allows for 12 weeks leave, but pay is not required.
- Some feel this proposal would backfire, and cause employers to hire fewer women in the long run.
At Lifehouse Maternity Home in Louisville, Founder Joan Smith oversees the lives expectant woman are rebuilding for themselves and their future little ones. Women who are expecting and are new moms can live here, and from here get the help to go to school, and get jobs. Smith believes there should be measures in place to keep their jobs secured while out having a baby, on maternity leave.
"I think that a woman can take maternity leave and with some type of guarantee- if she leaves as a good employee- that her job will be waiting for her when she comes back," Smith explains.
However, Smith is not in favor of having employers pay for six of the 12 weeks the federal government already sets in place for leave, as State Representative McKenzie Cantrell's (D- Jefferson County) bill would do, if passed.
"We would literally be out of business, because we cannot afford to have a vacancy in any one of our staff positions for six weeks," says Smith, afraid that employers wouldn't be able to afford the leave pay plus a replacement. Smith feels it could cause more men to be hired over women of childbearing age.
But Lifehouse Maternity Home is one place of work that would be exempt from the proposed Kentucky law. In the bill, it's specified to only apply to businesses with 50 or more employers. Smith has about 25 working for her nonprofit.
"We want to grow our careers in the same place. We want to show that our employer is invested in us, and I think it's really important when you're starting a family that your employer shows that same investment in you," bill sponsor Rep. Cantrell explains.
Read the full text of that bill, here.