Should U.S. Offer Paid Maternity Leave? President Obama Says Yes!
The United States of America is an international superpower. A leader, innovator and trailblazer when it comes to world affairs and as such, we’re known as the “land of opportunity.” Thousands flock to our united states for better lives, for increased finances and stability and freedom from their otherwise constricted or limited lives. We are among the most influential—if not the most influential—nation’s on the entire globe. And in most cases are ahead of the curve—unless you’re a working mother.
In this case we are behind the curve—way behind the curve. In fact, the United States of America is the only developed nation on a four-country list (Swaziland, Lesotho and Papua New Guinea round out the list) that doesn’t demand paid maternity leave for new mothers. An issue our President says should be tended to and changed.
“Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth—now that’s a pretty low bar,” said President Obama at a recent press conference.
And he’s right. There’s no reason why a hard working woman who gives birth to a new baby should not receive paid time off while she nutrures, cares for and bonds with her child during it’s first weeks of life.
The 1993 Family Medical Leave Act only requires that employers provide unpaid leave for medical and family reasons. In other words, paid maternity leave is optional.
Some companies have noticed the travesty our nation allows. And in some cases, have rectified it by instituting their own maternity leave policies.
Take Google for instance. In 2007, the super company noticed women were leaving the company at twice the rate of men, largely because of a non-competitive maternity leave policy. After instituting a policy of five months paid leave for new moms AND dads, that rate cut in half.
And even some states have caught. California, Rhode Island and New Jersey each have created a state benefit for new moms.
“If France can figure this out, we can figure this out,” said President Obama regarding legislation related to paid leave for parents.
In a national poll 89 percent of respondents says paid paternal leave is important too. And it is. While new moms need all the support they can get and what better support than that of her child’s father. Further, it’s just as important for dads to bond with their new babies as it is moms.
Parents should be able to care for their new children without the stress of worrying about how they will pay their bills while away from the job. As much time and dedication parents put into their careers before baby is born and while mom is carrying baby, paying parents for an allotted amount of time while they are away caring for their child is the least any company, or nation for that matter, could do. And hopefully that notion isn’t too far off for the U.S.A.
“There is only one developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave, and that is us,” said the president. He continued, “And that is not the list you want to be on—on your lonesome. It’s time to change that.”
We agree, Mr. President.