2nd Edition

Maternity Leave Policy and Practice

By Victoria Gordon, Beth M. Rauhaus Copyright 2020
    332 Pages
    by Routledge

    332 Pages
    by Routledge

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    What does it mean to be a successful working parent? And how do working parents cope in the United States, the only developed nation with no paid parental leave requirement? Despite some positive advancement in the voluntary adoption of paid parental leave, many organizations over the past 25 years have instead decreased paid leave benefits offered to employees in the United States, choosing instead to let unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) serve in its place. This regression in practice is perhaps the greatest unintended consequence of FMLA and surely was not the intent of Congress. Maternity Leave: Policy and Practice, Second Edition approaches parental leave from a variety of perspectives: legal, political, social, institutional, organizational, and, most importantly, from the personal perspectives of the women and men interviewed expressly for the book.

    This second edition offers two new chapters: the first puts the issue of maternity leave within the context of work–life balance issues, and the second explores case studies from states, cities, and private organizations. Incorporating new census data, related reports, and academic studies, authors Victoria Gordon and Beth M. Rauhaus utilize relevant and cutting-edge research in their exploration of parental leave, and they enrich this research with the individual stories of ordinary working parents as well as those who choose not to have children. Assuming no prior specialized knowledge, this book can be assigned on a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in politics, public policy, public administration, gender studies, and human resource management, and will equally be of interest to parents, policy makers, and C-suite managers.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables



    The Authors

    Chapter 1 Introduction: What Have We Done to Our Daughters?

    Maternity Leave—An Unresolved Conversation?

    Are Maternity Leave Expectations and Realities Mismatched?


    Chapter 2 Work–Life Balance

    Defining and Refining Work–Life Balance

    The Benefits to Organizations with Work–Life Balance Policies

    Work–Life Balance Employee Benefits for a Diverse Workforce


    Chapter 3 Background: Understanding the Legislative Intent and Symbolism of Public Policies

    In the Beginning: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

    The Tax Code and Child Care and Child Tax Credits

    The Promises and Problems of the Family and Medical Leave Act

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

    The Economic, Social, and Symbolic Implications of Maternity Leave Policies



    Chapter 4 The Evolution and Devolution of Maternity Leave as an Employee Benefit

    Trends in Birthrates, Fertility Rates, Employment Patterns, and Use of Maternity Leave Benefits

    Types of Maternity Leave Taken—Paid and Unpaid

    Types of Paternity and Parental Leave Policies

    Examples of Maternity Leave Policies

    Antenatal Leave and Short-Term Disability Leave

    No Leave and Permanent Exit from the Workplace


    Chapter 5 Women’s Health Care and the Workplace

    Health Insurance for Women of Childbearing Age

    Fertility Issues

    Intended and Unintended Pregnancies

    Pregnancy and Work

    Pregnancy and Factors Impacting Infant Mortality

    Delivery, Maternal Mortality, and Morbidity

    Maternity Leave and Infant Mortality

    Mother’s Return to Work and Breast-Feeding

    Well-Baby Doctor Visits

    Postpartum Issues

    Optimal Length of Maternity Leave

    The Baby’s Perspective

    The Need for a Holistic Approach to Women’s Health


    Chapter 6 Research Approach

    The Methodology: Why Qualitative Research?

    Analysis of the Interviews

    Study Limitations

    The Participants: Who Are These Women?

    Description of the In-Depth Interview Questions


    Chapter 7 The Interviews: Profiles of Women and Their Perceptions and Experiences

    Employees of Public Universities

    Employees of Private Universities

    Employees of the Pharmaceutical Industry


    Chapter 8 The Themes: How Women Cope with the Myths and Realities of Maternity Leave

    Inconsistencies in Administration of Maternity Leave Policies

    It Is All in the Timing

    Transition Back to Work

    Child Care

    Breast-Feeding, Pumping, and the Workplace

    Unmet Needs and Professional Concerns

    Chapter 9 The Other Voices

    Students Who Are Mothers: Is It Better to Have Children at a Younger Age?

    Fathers Who Utilized Paternity Leave

    Challenges Faced by Same-Sex Couples Who Decide to Become Parents

    Women Who Decided Not to Have Children

    Unsupportive Versus Supportive Colleagues—The Stereotypes and Biases

    Administrative Views—Rules Versus Discretion



    Chapter 10 An International Comparison—The Other Kingdoms

    What Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, and Parental Leave Benefits Are Offered in Other Countries?

    Why Is the United States Lagging behind Other Countries in Providing Maternity Leave Benefits?


    Chapter 11 Progress: Baby Steps

    Federal Maternity Leave Policy

    State Maternity Leave Policies

    Paid Leave in the States

    Unpaid and Partially Paid Leave in the States

    Local Government Maternity Leave Policies

    Private Sector Maternity Leave Policies and Best Practices


    Chapter 12 Conclusion: Can the Fairy Tale Be Realized or Should It Be Rewritten?

    What Are the Obstacles to a Happy Ending for Our Daughters?

    What Can We Reasonably Expect to Change within Our Organizations?

    What Is Best for Society?

    Restoring the Fairy Tale





    Victoria Gordon is a professor in the Department of Political Science MPA program at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green. She earned her doctor of public administration degree from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Her areas of research interest include municipal finance and human resources management.

    Beth M. Rauhaus is an assistant professor of public administration and the MPA Program Coordinator in the Department of Social Sciences at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. She holds a PhD in public administration and policy from Mississippi State University. Much of her research explores gender representation and diversity in the public sector.

    "Addressing a gap in the public administration literature, Maternity Leave, Second Edition is very well researched and covers a lot of ground, from work–life balance, legislation related to pregnancy and maternity leave, birthrates, fertility rates, women’s health, comparing international parental leave policies, to presenting in-depth profiles of women who have confronted challenges while utilizing maternity leave. This book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the topic of maternity leave." —Meghna Sabharwal, University of Texas at Dallas, USA

    "Gordon and Rauhaus provide a truly comprehensive approach to the study of maternity leave. This book is a must read, not only for scholars and policy makers, but anyone interested in—or affected by—pregnancy and maternity leave policies." —Mary McThomas, University of California, Irvine, USA

    "This edition delivers a truly definitive exploration of maternity leave. Looking back and leaning forward, this book leaves no corner unexamined. Personnel administrators, those who teach, or simply those interested in understanding parental leave for personal use will appreciate Gordon and Rauhaus’s depth and insights." —Hillary J. Knepper, Pace University, New York, USA

    "Victoria Gordon and Beth M. Rauhaus’s insight and discoveries are eye-opening. Their ideas and solutions can help break the glass ceiling, support modern families, and boost the economy. I hope every executive manager and policy maker reads it and, in turn, creates the change we need." —Elena Donovan Mauer, Parenting Writer and Editor, New York, USA