By Veronica Carter
A state-by-state analysis by the National Partnership for Women and Families
gives Indiana a D-minus for workplace protections such as family leave.
Erin Macey, a policy analyst for the Indiana Institute for Working Families, says 72 percent of Indiana's children live in a home where all the adults are working, so paid time off is crucial, especially for lower-income residents.
"Paid family and medical leave would allow parents to be home with their children at that critical time when they can initiate breast feeding, when they need to be looking for high quality child care, and we have research that shows that this kind of support allows them to do that," she states.
A bill has been put together in Indiana that would set up a program so employees could hold back a small amount from their paychecks to go into a medical leave fund. That could be used when a child is born, or as paid time off to care for aging family members.
Macey expects it to be introduced in the 2017 legislative session.
This month marks the 23rd anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which created unpaid leave for a new parent or for a medical emergency.
According to Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, some states have enacted measures that improve upon the federal statutes, but Indiana isn't on that list.
"A host of states, more than half, have done very little or nothing to improve the experiences and the supports that working families have at the time when a new child joins their family," she points out.
Twelve states were given grades of F for failing to enact any additional workplace policies to help families.
Around the world, 183 countries guarantee paid maternity leave, and 79 have paid leave for fathers as well.
Shabo says the evidence shows that enacting a national paid family leave program would benefit everyone.
"It would boost our GDP, it would boost women's labor force participation, it would create greater gender equality and it would reduce economic inequality, as well as difference in opportunities for children and children's health going forward," she states.