Mother's Day: Top 10 states for working moms

Mother's Day companies? That's what you could call workplaces that help moms meet their family commitments. Those companies can be located anywhere. But some states do better than others in mandating a level of standards beyond the federal minimum in the form of paid family leave, job protection, and “right to nurse” laws. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are the Top 10 states that best support new working mothers, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. Can you guess which state gets the highest marks?

10. Illinois (B-)

George LeClaire/Daily Herald/AP/File
Fans gather outside Wrigley Field before an opening-day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals in Chicago in April. Illinois offers its own state-employed mothers a better Mother's Day 'gift' than private-sector workers, including four weeks of parental leave and a broader definition of family.

Mother's Day or not, Illinois doesn't treat its state and private-sector employees equally when it comes family leave. Private-sector workers don’t get any extra benefits beyond the federal law for moms working for private employers. State workers fare better: four weeks of parental leave, which can be used by either parent; greater access to family leave; and a broader definition of “family” than the federal one. (If living together, two parents don’t necessarily have to be married for their household to qualify as a “family.”) Both state and private-sector mothers are entitled to nursing rights – a reasonable break and a place to nurse other than a bathroom stall.

A note on methodology: The National Partnership for Women and Families study assigns states letter grades based on what benefits the state offers new parents in addition to what is mandated by the federal government. One example: The federally mandated Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows new parents to take a 12-week unpaid leave of absence when a new child is born, only applies to employees who work at firms of 50 or more employees, so a state with an FMLA that applies to smaller firms as well would earn a higher score.

The seventeen states with an “F,” according to the study, offer nothing beyond the protections required by the federal government. A state with a “D” might offer one additional benefit, a “C” a few more, and so on. The states on this list all scored a “B-“ or higher. The highest grade: an "A-."

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