She has 14 No. 1 hits, sold over 340 million records and has broken barriers – building a beauty and fashion empire that is inclusive from the sizes, shapes and genders of the models, to the range of colors available in her makeup. But Rihanna’s latest role as a mom may be her most challenging yet.
Just before her Super Bowl halftime performance in which she revealed her second pregnancy, Rihanna spoke to the difficult decisions she now faces in balancing her career with parenthood: how the projects she takes on mean time away from her child and what question she asks herself in order to make those determinations. Of course, she likely has resources that many parents only dream of, such as the ability to hire round-the-clock care, personal assistants and the flexibility to create her own schedule. Even still, with a second child on the way, the tension Rihanna feels between her growing family and her expansive career will no doubt multiply. So if a superstar like Rihanna has to think about how to make it all work, it’s no surprise that the rest of us do, too.
Making things even more tense for working moms is a lack of support from their employers, which is why we continue to push for policies that support working families. And while we still have some work to do to win policies that will help all moms, such as universal child care, there are policies that are within reach that would alleviate some of the burdens parents face when trying to balance work and life. We just need Congress to get on board.
Thankfully, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child and other reasons such as addressing one’s own health condition. Since it was signed into law 30 years ago, the FMLA has been a key protective measure for millions of American workers, not only ensuring that they have time to prioritize their personal health and that of their loved ones, but ensuring that they are able to return to jobs that have been waiting for them. However, as many as 44% of workers are not currently covered by the FMLA – and millions of workers can’t afford to take time off without pay.
That’s why we support the suite of legislation that would modernize and expand FMLA coverage so all people can stay at their jobs without sacrificing their health or the health of their families: the Job Protection Act, the Education Support Professionals (ESP) Family Leave Act, and the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act.
Plus, the FAMILY Act would finally give us the kind of national paid leave program we all need, which would help tremendously to lessen some of the uncertainty workers feel when they need to stay home with a sick child or accompany an elderly family member to a doctor’s appointment. While some states offer paid leave, a national program would help address the longstanding inequities that unduly impact women and people of color in our country.
And because school-age children will no doubt get sick or bring home an illness, paid sick days not only offer a way for parents to recover more quickly but also save them more than $1.1 billion annually in preventable health care costs .
The Paycheck Fairness Act would help close the wage gap by improving hiring practices and ensuring that women are paid fairly and equally to their male counterparts for doing the same work. It would also allow women to discuss their pay without having to worry about their employer retaliating against them.
Now for some good news: Congress recently passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which goes into effect later this year, and will help pregnant people get the reasonable accommodations they need while pregnant at work.
None of these policies will turn you into Rihanna – unfair, we know – but they would help moms overcome the “motherhood penalty,” which causes women to miss out on pay raises and career opportunities, simply because they are moms. And with women like Rhianna sharing their stories – showing that women can in fact hold a job, take on new, big opportunities, and love their children all without losses in productivity – hopefully our leaders in Congress will be prompted to take action sooner than later.