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Report Ranks SD Low On Workplace Family Support

National Partnership for Women and Families

A new report shows that South Dakota lags behind in support for working parents. The state is one of 12 that received an “F” rating for not expanding upon federal laws for maternity and paternity leave.

Sarah Fleischfink is with the National Partnership for Women and Families.  The organization examined practices that support working parents in all 50 states. Fleischfink says the federal Family and Medical Leave Act took effect twenty-three years ago.  But she says South Dakota is one state that has not adopted support for employed new and expecting parents beyond these standards. She says this survey ranks states on paid family medical leave, pregnancy laws, paid sick days and protections for nursing mothers. She says South Dakota can up its grade by passing legislation that improves conditions for families.

“Legislators should care about passing policies to help working families for so many reasons, some of them specific to each of these different types of laws, some of them just about a general principle of helping working families with the support that they need, and that while helping working families, you also are also helping the economy and businesses and communities to thrive," says Fleischfink.

But officials like Shawn Lions with the South Dakota Retailers Association say the outside survey doesn’t consider the regulations of individual businesses.

“This out-of-state group is trying to impose a one-size-fits-all study when in fact you’ve got the private marketplace doing it on their own," says Lions. "It seems having the mandate versus common sense approach that a lot of businesses are trying to do on their own without a mandate is how we should be doing business.”

Lions says many companies have improved accommodations and policies for employees and customers. But Sarah Fleischfink says the country needs further progress. She hopes for more federal action to provide equal protection nationwide.