Dear Mr. or Mrs. President:
Thank you for this opportunity to write and express my concern on an issue I believe needs to be addressed in your administration.
First and foremost, despite the fact that the women’s rights movement has made great strides and continues to press forward on issues of equal pay and job opportunities, one issue that needs immediate attention is pregnancy and parenting in the workplace.
While the Family Leave Act of 1993 was a step forward in ensuring legal rights for women, today companies continue to intimidate or threaten women for taking time off to recover from and caring for their baby in its first 12 weeks of life. These companies likely know it is illegal to not hire a woman who is pregnant or already has children, or even fire a woman who is on maternity leave. However, again, they use tactics that make it very difficult for these women who want to have a career or need to support their family, to remain in the workplace.
This raises serious concerns for me as a young woman. Will I experience similar problems, or will I work for a company who is considerate and follows the law? When I choose to have a child, I shouldn’t have to worry that I could be cut off from receiving a paycheck or be “let go” because I tell my supervisor that I will be taking maternity leave. Essentially, without that paycheck, how will I afford all that is needed to care for a new baby? Diapers, formula, and clothing is very expensive. Yes, I can save money before having a child, but I may not have enough. Should that mean I do not have a child? Research shows that millions of women every year worry about losing their jobs due to pregnancy and parenting because their company is not supportive.
I am sure your are aware that the United States greatly lags behind other countries like Australia, United Kingdom, and Ireland in supporting time off for women during pregnancy and after delivery. I believe a few things can be done quickly to solve these problems. First, enforce the Family Leave Act by penalizing companies that intimidate or threaten women. Establish a state or local board that reviews Family Leave applications, privately contacts the women who have requested the leave, and then visits the owners of the company who are not following the law to fine them. Second, pass a law that requires the company to pay for maternity leave. Women should not have to use their vacation or sick time to cover maternity leave. These days should be reserved for when the mother wants to enjoy her family or needs rest to be a better mother or worker. Finally, pass a law that increases the number of weeks a woman is able to take off for maternity leave from 3 months (12 weeks) to 6 months. This allows the mother more time to physically and mentally prepare for returning to work. It also allows she and her husband or partner to save more money because they won’t have to pay daycare expenses as quickly.
While it seems only human that companies be happy and supportive of women having children and families, it is unfortunate that this isn’t always the case. Under your leadership, you can change this and make a difference for millions of women in the United States.
Mr. or Mrs. President, think of your own daughter who is married and may soon have a child. Do you want her to experience threats or intimidation by her employer? Do you want her to have to make the choice to either quit her job or agree to work in extremely difficult conditions? I don’t believe you would. Please don’t let this continue to happen to other women. You can make the choice to enhance the quality of life for a new generation of women.
Thank you very much for reading this letter. I hope you will give serious consideration to my request.