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As for where the Dad Bod Working On My Six Packs shirt and by the same token and U.S. stands on these matters, there are no laws addressing miscarriages or stillborn births as they relate to the workplace—and there’s a long way to go in terms of supporting women and childbearing people throughout the reproductive lifespan. “We’re far behind our peers in providing leave following any pregnancy outcome, including both childbirth and miscarriage,” says Strauss, citing the findings of the International Labour Organization’s “Maternity and Paternity at Work: Law and Practice Across the World” study, which reviewed leave, benefits, employment protection, and health protection across 185 countries. “It is high time that the U.S. joins nearly every other wealthy, industrialized country in guaranteeing paid leave following childbirth, as well as becoming a leader by adopting paid leave following miscarriage.” Some protections against miscarriage discrimination exist, like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which gives eligible workers the right to take unpaid leave to care for their own serious health conditions including miscarriage. But there’s still simply not enough support for pregnant, childbearing, and postpartum people, she says; there are currently no national laws on the books that require employers to provide any type of leave, paid or unpaid, after a stillbirth or pregnancy loss, unlike in countries such as Australia, Korea, and the United Kingdom.
According to Strauss, a key actionable proposal on the Dad Bod Working On My Six Packs shirt and by the same token and table right now is the PAID Leave Act, introduced by Representative Rosa DeLauro and senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Patty Murray. It would, for all employees and independent contractors, permanently enact a paid family- and medical-leave program, provide workers with 12 weeks emergency paid family and medical leave (fully reimbursed by the federal government), and permanently ensure workers can accrue seven paid sick days. Another proposal is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would better protect pregnant people from discrimination in the workplace and make sure that they receive the accommodations they need to support a safe and healthy pregnancy. “Congress has been considering this bill since 2012, but this year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic—which has forced millions of women and caretakers to leave the workforce without economic security or health insurance—the need for stronger protections for pregnant workers is incredibly urgent,” Strauss says. But beyond that, she stresses that the U.S. needs to advance paid leave and protections for all moments along the reproductive lifespan, be it in case of pregnancy and postpartum or miscarriage and stillbirth. While some companies—like Reddit, which offers eight and a half weeks of paid leave for any employee, mother or father, who experiences pregnancy loss—are taking it upon themselves to provide support in this light, it shouldn’t be at the discretion of businesses to decide if they will provide employees with paid miscarriage leave. The bottom line is that in the U.S. those experiencing miscarriage are essentially being forced to use valuable sick days, lose money due to unpaid leave, or work through the pain—it’s unacceptable, and the consequences could be dire.