In some good news for working women and families in the United States, voters in Colorado and Oregon have brought in two new proposals that may go a long way in safeguarding the rights of women.
On Tuesday, voters in Colorado approved a proposal for paid medical and family leave across the state. Under the proposal, named Proposition 118, a state fund will be created which will allow all workers across the state to draw 12 weeks of paid leave in case of having a baby. The time could be extended to 16 weeks, in case there are complications in the pregnancy or risk to the baby or parent’s health. The fun will also allow workers to draw support for treating ailments in the family.
If that weren’t good news enough, voters in Portland, Oregon, voted to approve universal pre-school for children across the state. The voluntary universal preschool program intends to provide free pre-school education to children aged three to four-year-old by taking high-income residents for the same, news portal 19thnews.org reported.
In the case of Colorado, too, funds will be raised via a payroll tax which will allow workers to receive as much as over $1,000 a day when they take the time off. The tax will be applicable to both employees and employers who will start paying for it in 2023 so that workers can start reaping its benefits from 2024.
The proposals come at a time when large numbers of American women are dropping out of the workforce due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced a large section of women to bear the burden of childcare.
The reverberating economic shock of the coronavirus crisis has delivered a massive setback for women because so many work in the badly exposed services sector, experts say.
The nature of the outbreak means women are more likely than men to lose or quit their jobs in vulnerable low-paying workplaces like bars, conference venues, hairdressing salons, hotels, pubs and restaurants, which faced extensive shutdowns.
According to Women in the Workforce, a comprehensive study on the state of corporate or working women in the US, one out of four women may quit the workforce due to the coronavirus pandemic.
School closures during lockdown have exacerbated the situation because more women than men tend to care for and teach their children, even while working from home.
Studies show that women are quitting jobs at unprecedented numbers. As many as 865,000 women have quit the labour force in US between August and September. This is four times more than the number of men.
Not just in the US, the impact of coronavirus can be seen on women’s participation in the labour force across the world. In India, for instance, a large number of women fell out of the workforce in 2020 due to the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.
A clear indicator of the falling participation of women in the workforce came in came in August when a report revealed that tha rate of participation of women under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is at an eight-year low.
With proposals such as the ones passed in Colorado and Oregon, it may be hoped that more administrative governments adopt the idea of sharing a workers’ burden of childcare.