Our country is facing some pretty sobering statistics when it comes to a parents' ability to take time off after welcoming a new baby. Ready for this? Just 12 percent have access to paid family leave, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Meanwhile, more than half of American families rely on two incomes to make things work, and 66 percent of women are either the breadwinners or co-breadwinners.
The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that just three states offer paid family leave: California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. That is, until now. Because Minnesota is poised to become the fourth. Tina Smith, the lieutenant governor of Minnesota, writes in the Star Tribune that 32,000 government employees will soon be able to take advantage of six weeks of paid leave when they become parents. She estimates 500 workers will benefit next year.
"The next step is for the Minnesota Legislature to formally ratify this agreement between state government and state employees early next year," Smith writes, adding that the hope is that this "example encourages more employers to offer paid family leave."
Currently, Target, the Mayo Clinic, and General Mills are among the major family-friendly employers in the state of Minnesota that offer paid leave.
Of course, Minnesota taking this step has the potential to do more than encourage employers within the state. Here's hoping states and employers nationwide look to the North Star State's example, and do their part to make parents feel like working and having children aren't mutually exclusive goals.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.