The new decade brings with it more than paltry resolutions. There’s an influx of family-friendly laws being introduced in 2020. Check them out to see which ones benefit your family.
There’s one new federal change in 2020 that can directly affect your child’s future. For those either having or adopting a baby in 2020, you can now withdraw up to $5,000 from your 401K or retirement plan without penalty (a big deal, because the penalty normally is 10%).
“This is a big advantage for new parents, whether it’s to save for college or use for new child-related expenses,” John Schulte, Enrolled Agent, tells Parentology. “Many young people have been in the workforce and saving for retirement already, so it’s an alternate use for some of those funds.”
Then there’s the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA provides certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. There has been, however, some confusion about employees at various federal agencies excluded from the act.
Healthcare’s Family-Friendly Laws
There are a number of healthcare and health-related laws coming into effect in 2020. Illinois, for instance, is doing a lot to benefit newer parents:
- Every public building with public restrooms must now have a diaper changing station accessible for both men and women: new dads now have diaper duty covered.
- Every hospital shall have blood pressure equipment for taking a pregnant woman’s blood pressure (hard to believe it was necessary to demand this). Hospital staff will receive racial and ethnic disparity training when working with pregnant women.
- Health insurance companies must cover the cost of donated breast milk, if deemed medically necessary, for kids up to one year old.
- And, great news for kids with allergies, insurance companies must cover the cost of EpiPens for kids 18 and under. No more price gouging.
In California, vaccinations are emphasized. There will be greater oversight for doctors who write vaccine health exemptions. Doctors who write more than five exemptions will have actions reviewed by the state, and existing medical exemptions will be phased out over time. The goal? A 95% vaccination rate throughout the state, essentially boosting the rate for total herd immunity from preventable diseases.
And in Washington state, paid family leave is now law. Starting in 2020, eligible workers can receive 12 weeks paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child, a serious medical condition of the worker or a family member, or 16 weeks for a combination of both.
Minimum Wage Raises
A whopping 24 states are raising the minimum wage starting in 2020. These increases are beneficial both for low-income households and for workers under 18. Some states are increasing it by more than $1/hr.
Illinois and California again lead the charge in new laws regarding education.
In Illinois, starting now:
- All students must take three years of math to graduate high school, with some flexibility.
- Students in grades 6-12 sex education will include the meaning of the term “consent.”
- To make college more accessible, all students in the top 10% of their school’s GPA will have automatic admission to Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, Western Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University.
- School districts will autonomy over new charter schools, and new teachers at charter schools will be required to hold the same credentials as those in traditional public schools (with the requirement being phased in over five years for existing teachers).
- Children whose parents have unpaid school lunch bills won’t be skipping meals, and can’t be shamed or treated differently than other students.
- Students up to fifth grade for defiance or being disruptive. Effective with the school year that begins in August. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will also be protected from such suspensions for the next five years.
- Schools must update records to reflect a student’s former name or gender if changes have been made to the person’s official government identification. This includes reissuing high school diplomas, GEDs and transcripts.
LGBTQ Specific Laws
California wins this category, with six new laws designed to support LGBTQ families. The laws range from AB 2684, the LGBTQ Family Law Modernization Act (unmarried LGBTQ couples with children are both listed as parents), to SB 495 (sexual orientation or gender identity isn’t a factor in becoming an adoptive or foster parent), to AB 2119 (better LGBTQ healthcare services and programs for foster children).