Paid parental leave should be equal and for both parents once a child is born
Recently women’s rights and women’s equality in the workplace has come back to the fore as a topic for discussion in government agencies and the United Nations. Whilst this is a very important topic, when it comes to time off from work when a new child is born, women in the US have some provision, whereas men have none.
The Family and Medical Aid Act (FLMA), of 1993, provides for 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for certain specified events (8). Whilst one could refer to this as maternity or paternity leave if taken because of a pregnancy, this would not be strictly true. Where maternity and paternity leave are offered around the world, they are separate from any other leave due to medical or family reasons. The leave in the U.S. provided through the FLMA is also, as mentioned, unpaid. This creates a number of issues for the expectant family as, regardless of their job being safe for the time taken off, without the income it may be harder to look after the new born child as a couple of unpaid parents, than one parent not taking leave, or neither taking leave and relying on relatives to care for the child as much as possible.
Figure 1, shows the top countries in the world for maternity leave, with all offering over 50 weeks, and Serbia and Denmark at 100% of salary. In other countries both the amount of time and percentage of salary differs, but as Amanda Peterson Beadle points out in her article for the ThinkProgress website, ‘Out of 178 nations, the U.S. is one of three that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits, let alone paid leave for fathers’. (6)
Figure 1 – Top four countries for paid maternity l...
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...erview), 2013, Website
Hensegard, Jens, For Paternity Leave, Sweden Asks if Two Months Is Enough, WSJ (Wall Street Journal), July 31, 2012, Print
(5) Maltais, Michelle, Maternity Leave in America: How do we stack up? (http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/16/news/la-sh-maternity-leave-benefit-20140115), Los Angeles Times, 2014, Website
(6) Peterson Beadle, Amanda, How the Zero Weeks of Paid Maternity Leave in the U.S. Compare Globally (thinkprogress.org/health/2012/05/24/489973/paid-maternity-leave-us/), ThinkProgress, 2012, Website
(7) The Telegraph, Maternity leave is a burden for many women (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/9602859/Maternity-leave-is-a-burden-for-many-women-says-thinktank-director.html), 2012, Website
(8) U.S. Dept. of Labor, Family and Medical Leave Act – Wage and Hour Division (WHD) (http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/), 2013, Website
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