Legislative Women’s Caucus puts support behind pregnancy leave for school staff

California legislators are again trying to attain paid pregnancy leave for teachers and school staff. A bill introduced earlier this month would require school districts and colleges to give teachers, and other school staff, up to 14 weeks of paid leave for a pregnancy.

The legislation, introduced by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and co-authored by members of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, would give school employees full pay if they miss work because of a pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, termination of pregnancy or recovery from these conditions.

Currently, teachers are exempt from paying into or benefiting from state disability insurance. They can take unpaid maternity leave, but most use vacation and sick time if they want a paid leave.

“As a new mom, physically recovering from pregnancy and birth while also caring for a newborn, it is unfathomable that most of us must consider whether or not we are going to get paid,” said Erika Jones, a kindergarten teacher and the Secretary-Treasurer of California Teachers Association in a press release. “Educators devote their lives to their students; yet, when it comes to their own families, they have to constantly sacrifice because of the lack of basic supports such as said pregnancy leave. In a field that is primarily women, we need to do better.”

In 2019 Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a similar bill that would have given teachers and school staff at least six weeks of fully paid maternity leave, saying it would be too costly for school districts and colleges. The length of the leave would have been determined by the woman’s physician.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed also vetoed a paid maternity leave bill for school staff in 2018, saying that leave policies for school employees are best resolved through the collective bargaining process at the local level.

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