WASHINGTON – Rhode Island earned a “C+” grade for supporting new parents in the workplace in a new report released Tuesday by the National Partnership for Women & Families.
The C+ in “Expecting Better: a state-by-state analysis of laws that help new parents” earned the Ocean State the 11th best place in the United States for new parents to work.
To determine the state grades, the report examined state laws affecting new parents, including nursing mothers’ rights at work, paid sick day laws and medical leave laws.
The Ocean State earned 50 points for its programs and laws regarding new parents in the workplace. Comparatively, California – the highest scoring state – earned 125 points and an A- grade.
The report graded workers’ rights in both the private sector and those of state workers.
In Rhode Island, the Temporary Disability Insurance program provides partial wage replacement for up to 30 weeks to eligible private-sector workers who are temporarily disabled – including women with pregnancy or childbirth related disabilities. Only some of Rhode Island’s state workers are eligible for TDI.
All working mothers in Rhode Island are entitled to a place – other than the bathroom – to nurse while their children are infants. Unlike most state laws, however, Rhode Island does not require employers to provide break time for nursing.
Ocean State workers have access to a slightly longer family and pregnancy disability leave under state law than under the federal FMLA – 13 weeks of leave in a two-year period compared with the federal standard of 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
For Rhode Island state workers, the definition of “family member” includes domestic partnerships – a definition that is broader than under federal guidelines.