With all the hubbub of the transition, it can be easy to miss some of the cool things going on in state and local governments. All over the country, these legislatures are continuing business as usual and passing bills that have the potential to impact women in the workforce. Fortunately, most of this legislation has been overwhelming supportive of women and is helping them get one step closer to equality. Here are five of our favorite most recent pieces of legislation:
This month, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to offer city employees up to twelve weeks of paid parental leave. This is a big jump from the four weeks that they are offered now. What is even better is that the benefit applies not only to births, but also to placements of children in homes through adoption, foster care and legal guardianship. The new legislation means that no person will be forced to choose between their job and starting and caring for their family, an obligation that oftentimes falls on women.
Philadelphia made big equal opportunity strides by becoming the first city in the nation to ban employers from asking potential new hires to provide their salary history. This is a step in the right direction towards narrowing the wage gap between men and women as women have historically been paid less than men and asking for their salary history helps perpetuate a cycle of lower salaries for women. While there has been some backlash against the legislation, the City Council is confident that it is a necessary step forward to ending wage discrimination.
The Centennial State recently followed California and Oregon’s examples and became the third state to pass legislation authorizing pharmacists to prescribe birth control after receiving additional training. The law allows the state to address public health needs and provide services to women who may not have access to a health-care provider. The legislation will help women by allowing them to pick up their birth control like they would a bottle of shampoo and not have to take time from work or out of their schedules to visit a health care provider.
Following in Philadelphia’s footsteps, Diane Sands, a member of the Montana House of Representatives, has introduced a bill that would forbid employers for asking for previous salary information and allows employees to discuss wages without retaliation. The second part of the legislation is particularly critical because women typically ask for fewer raises and are less likely to negotiate their pay than men. The bill aims to create an environment where employees can openly discuss pay and salaries with their supervisors and be able to track whether or not their pay is adequate.
Last year, New Hampshire passed a law that prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who requests a flexible work schedule. While the law works to protect young working families, it is especially helpful for women who often face a stigma when they request flexible employment arrangements from their employers to take care of their family or otherwise. The legislation is meant to enact structural changes to the business environment that make it more hospitable for all people to work in.
Is your state or local government doing great things for women? Let us know in the comments below!