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CO Women Head to Washington to Fight for Families

In a new report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, Colorado earned a 'C-' for its workplace policies.
In a new report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, Colorado earned a 'C-' for its workplace policies.
June 23, 2014

WASHINGTON - Colorado women are in Washington Monday to participate in the White House Summit for Working Families.

Shelby Ramirez, a Denver resident, is one of them. She said as a mother, grandmother and daughter, she knows about the importance of family and medical leave. It's protected under Colorado law. But according to Ramirez, taking leave without pay isn't always possible for those with dependents.

"We're the primary caregivers, especially with Latin families." said Ramirez. "I truly am the caregiver of the house. When somebody is sick, it's very important for me to spend time nurturing my family back to health."

The White House is hosting the summit Monday to showcase policies that would help the country's working families.

In a new report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, Colorado earned a 'C-' for its workplace policies. The state was recognized for its job-protected family and medical leave and domestic-partner recognition under the FMLA. But the report noted more can be done in Colorado to support working families.

According to Sarah Fleisch Fink, senior policy counsel for the National Partnership for Women and Families, the current state of the FMLA is a step in the right direction. But not everyone can afford to take leave.

"They can sometimes take the time off and are not paid," said Fleisch-Fink. "But that can lead to real financial hardship for them. For some families, one or two sick days can mean not being able to afford groceries for that month, or rent for that month."

Colorado also protects workplace nursing rights by requiring employers to provide a place other than a restroom for workers to express breast milk.

Fleisch-Fink said the state could extend their support by requiring companies to make allowances for pregnant women, such as providing stools for counter-workers and extra bathroom breaks.

"These are normally minor accommodations that can make a real difference for a pregnant women who's working."

Colorado state workers also have flexible use of sick leave, allowing employees to use sick time to care for their family members.

Read the report Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help New Parents, from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - CO