Reproductive Health & Paid Family Medical Leave

The Impact of Paid Family and Medical Leave 

The work of women, no matter what profession or job, involves caring for families, extended families, and the community as family. Their economic sustainability is critical. Many women face devastating hardships and even homelessness, as they fulfill the demands of life and work.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Protects Jobs

Paid family and medical leave (PFML) can provide stability for families to engage in caring for each other without fear of loss of employment. For example, if a family is confronted with the devastating diagnosis of cancer, they must plan for consultations, multiple appointments, possible chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or possible surgical interventions. Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) can be designed to provide intermittent absences from work with pay.

Paid Family and Medical Leave During Pregnancy and Beyond

A woman’s pregnancy is likely to be an uncomplicated process with a joyful outcome. However, complications of pregnancy may include the unforeseen, such as, miscarriage, preterm birth, diabetes or hypertension.

Women are more likely to assume the role of caregiver as the population of the United States ages. Laws that protect the economic base of the caregiver are essential.

 Paid Family Medical Leave & Family Medical Leave, What’s the Difference?

To understand the concept of Paid Family Medical Leave, it is helpful to know how it differs from the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

FMLA: The United States Department of Labor’s Family and Medical Leave Act

The “FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.” Family Medical Leave

Paid Family & Medical Leave policies are associated with improving the health of women and families. Expansion of FMLA to include paid leave includes: medical leave if a person has a serious health condition;  parental leave (encompassing maternity leave, paternity leave, or bonding leave);  caregiving leave covers people caring for a loved one; deployment-related leave covers needs in connection with a loved one’s current or impending active-duty military service, such as making legal or financial arrangements, attending official military events, or being with a loved one home from service on a short-term leave; safe leave covers needs when a worker or their loved one is a victim of sexual or domestic violence, such as seeking a restraining order or relocating to safety. Paid Family Medical Leave

Consider This Short Story with Two Possible Endings

M. Doe completed her FMLA paperwork before her due date. Her employer’s maternity leave policy gave her 6 weeks of leave after the baby was delivered. Six weeks ago M. Doe successfully delivered baby Isaac. Baby Isaac and M. Doe experienced difficulty with breastfeeding and the in-patient lactation consultant (breastfeeding specialist) was extremely helpful. Unfortunately, breastfeeding problems continued for Isaac and M. Doe at home. With complications of breastfeeding, M. became anxious and worried about baby Isaac’s health. Her family noticed a change in her moods, she cried more often and slept less. M.’s partner convinced her to seek care and three weeks later M. notified her provider that she wasn’t feeling like herself. An appointment was made, and M. was diagnosed with postpartum depression, she was provided with a prescription for anti-depressants and referred for counseling. Today, at her 6-week postpartum visit, M.’s depression screening questionnaire score was 20, compared to a score of less than 3 for postpartum mothers without symptoms of depression. 

Postpartum Depression

M. had no history of depression or mood disorders before pregnancy. M.’s partner was working part-time at Walmart and taking college classes at night. They tried to help as much as possible, but M. needed to return to her demanding profession as a para-legal because her employer’s maternity care package only covered 6-weeks of leave. M,’s postpartum depression required at least another month of care.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

FMLA Scenario:  M. and her family had no compensation during  her maternity leave. M.’s partner worked part-time at Walmart and was ineligible for paid family and medical leave. Only full-time employees were eligible for paid maternity leave. Four weeks later, M.’s depression was under control, but the complications of her pregnancy resulted in the family having medical debts in collection.

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFMLA)

PFML Scenario: M.’s company implemented a paid family and medical leave policy the year before her pregnancy. She and her partner met with Human Resources advisors and were informed of how the PFML policy would benefit them for any potential pregnancy or serious medical condition, including mental health complications. Although M.’s partner was ineligible for Walmart’s paid maternity leave, M.’s paychecks provided them with financial stability despite her complications of pregnancy.

Who Pays for New Mexico’s PFML?

PFML is funded through employee and employer contributions. The contributions are made quarterly through payroll deductions.