If you consider yourself a feminist, then you’d see the benefit of advocating for both maternal and paternal leave. Just to give you a quick recap: most companies in America give new mothers and fathers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (even though 70% of women report taking only ten weeks off on average) under the Family Medical Leave Act or maternity leave. The FMLA, though, only applies to firms with over 50 employees. Shockingly, America is the only country in the world that doesn’t require mandatory paid leave. According to a 2018 Mercer survey, 40% of employers now offer some form of paid maternity leave, up from 25% in 2015. Still, there’s even more work to be done on the paternity front. Only 9% of worksites in the United States offer paid paternity leave and 76% of fathers are back to work within a week.
The good news is, things seem to be changing in the right direction. Companies like Netflix, Microsoft, and Facebook are examples of companies that give generous paid leave even though they’re not legally required to. In October 2020, government employees will begin getting paid parental leave under the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act. Over two million government employees will obtain up to 12 weeks with their newborn. Previously, they had to use paid time off or unpaid leave, which many eschew because of stigma and financial reasons. It’s worth noting that “new parents” include those that had a child via birth, adoption, or foster care. There’s a small catch though in order to qualify: “Government workers have to establish a year of employment and also must return to work for a minimum of 12 weeks (or equal to the time they took off during their leave) after returning from leave,” Scary Mommy explains.
Evidently, there is still more work to be done. Government employees aside, everyone should be offered paid leave. For reasons like a baby’s development, health benefits for both mom and baby, and financial stability, parents deserve time spent with their newborn without any added pressure.
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