Organization pushes for mandatory paid maternity leave

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COLUMBIA - In 1919, the nineteenth amendment gave women in the United States the right to vote, but the struggle for equal rights didn't stop there.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) Missouri chapter say they are working on creating a fair workplace environment for all sexes, by pushing for mandatory paid pregnancy leave.

Right now, there is no legislature in Missouri stating that women must be paid during their leave of absence, leaving many mothers without a pay check while they take care of their new-born.

President of the Missouri chapter of NOW Seileach Corleigh said that not only does unpaid maternity leave hurt moms, it hurts employers also.

"They (companies) have to train a new person (if they let the pregnant woman go), so that hinders the businesses productivity, as well as putting somewhat of a hindrance on employees because they have to consider, 'If I get pregnant, this puts me in danger of losing my job."

A report out of the Cambridge Judge Business school show women on maternity leave who are still getting a pay check even when they are out of the office are more likely to return to their position after their children's birth.

Local Columbia mother Lisa Flores said that making it mandatory that businesses give paid maternity leave would have made her life easier.

"It would reduce stress among parents," Flores said. "Having kids, starting a family is very expensive and knowing that you can have time to be able to bond with your child during those first few months and not having to worry about financial stress is a major factor for families."

Another mother from Columbia, Melissa Connoley said that when it comes to telling businesses what to do, it becomes a grey area.

"It's difficult because I don't really believe in legislating business," Connoley said. "However, it's important for our society to recognize the importance of motherhood and those early bonding days with babies."

KOMU 8 News reached out to business in the area, but all declined to talk.