Cal Matters: California can fix the bad math of new motherhood

May 15, 2019

By Jasmin Tuffaha Gutierrez, Special to CALmatters

Again, researching family leave laws is not usually involved in career planning, and it was only when I moved into my current job and became pregnant that I realized that I, along with about half the entire workforce in California, don’t have family leave rights.

Our laws that give parents the right to return to their jobs only apply to those who work for larger employers, and only if they have worked for the employer at least a full year and on average over 24 hours per week.

Fortunately, I landed at a workers’ rights organization. It will give me additional leave to bond with my baby and to access my paid family leave benefits–not because the law requires it, but because it’s the decent thing to do. Firing me is not.  Not all workers are so lucky.

For them, they need the law’s guarantee so that they can take family leave without risking their job and financial security.  

That is why Senate Bill 135 by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson is so critical. It would expand our family leave laws to cover nearly all workers in California.  

Being a pregnant woman in California, in America, is fraught. I don’t feel supported, even as our society romanticizes motherhood. Let’s take a lesson from our neighbors up north, and all industrialized nations, by guaranteeing leave to new parents as a basic right offered to everyone.