The Washington Times - October 20, 2009, 10:50AM

Center for American Progress released a study yesterday titled The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything. The left leaning Center for American Progress worked with first lady of California Maria Shriver to put together a report essentially promoting the center’s liberal policy agenda on the hill.

The Shriver Report focuses primarily on women in the American workforce.  Looking at history, the report comments on where they say women were in the work force, and where they think women should be today and the future.

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The Washington Times Water Cooler will examine the Shriver Reports claims regularly. Today, we will begin with a video of staffers from the Center for American Progress who spoke to audience and press about about the report.

The Family and Medical Leave Act  was enacted in 1993 as a way to help Americans handle the circumstances of both work and family. Under FMLA, a company with at least 50 employees guarantees 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, care for a sick family member, or recover from a serious health condition. Maternity leave falls under FMLA. Interestingly enough, under the q and a section, here’s how the Department of Labor cites maternity leave as qualifying under FMLA: 

Q: Can the employer count time on maternity leave or pregnancy disability as FMLA leave?

Yes. Pregnancy disability leave or maternity leave for the birth of a child would be considered qualifying FMLA leave for a serious health condition and may be counted in the 12 weeks of leave.

Page 226 of The Shriver Report states: 

For cultural shifts to occur across businesses and industries large and small, there needs to be a shift in U.S. policy around work-family issues, flexibility, and diversity. Despite its position as a global economic leader and a leader in the advancement of equality for women, our nation continues to show little appetite to address the needs of working women and families through government policy. In a study of the maternity policies of 168 countries, for example, the United States ranked at the bottom in terms of time and financial support provided for maternity leave. And the lack of provision of medical insurance and caregiving all strongly suggest that the United States falls far below many less prosperous countries in the provision of the basic policies that would support families, specifically the U.S. working women who are primarily responsible for the care of these families.

As more childless single women come into the workplace, many find themselves doing extra work when other colleagues are on maternity or paternity leave.  The extra workload for a single childless employee sometimes occurs when other colleagues must tend to general familial responsibilities.

Is it really government’s role to decide which worker’s concerns are more important? It is obviously important for a pregnant woman to take time off to prepare to give birth to a child. However,  The Daily Telegraph reported that a majority of British  women would favor single childless women being granted the same amount of time off that their pregnant counterparts have received through maternity leave.:

Women who do not have children should be allowed to take maternity leave, allowing them time off from the workplace, according to a study.

It found that 74 per cent of women would be in favour of being allowed to take a six-month break, or even longer, as mothers are allowed to do when they give birth.More than two-thirds of those in favour were mothers themselves.

The idea of forcing employers to offer time off to women, not just mothers, came a day after one of Britain’s most senior businesswomen, Nicola Pease, said excessive maternity leave and high sex discrimination payouts could backfire against women.

Is this where we could head here in the United States? Single childless non-pregnant women demanding maternity leave from their employers?  The Washington Times asked a panel at the Center for American Progress about how the Shriver Report addresses this issue. Their response is in the video below.