Okay, okay, we’re not really moving. However, I’ve found an issue that gets me so revved up, so frustrated, so angry, so ready-to-throw-a-two-year-old-style-temper-tantrum that it really makes me want to consider it. What’s that issue? Parental leave. Take a look at this infographic:
As the article from The Huffington Post states, the U.S. is one of four countries–four countries–that does not mandate paid maternity leave. The other countries? Lesotho (an enclave of South Africa), Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea.
Before B and I had really started talking about a baby seriously, I didn’t understand this shameful fact about the U.S. I even remember saying, “I don’t want to have a baby during the summer! Then I wouldn’t get to take any time off!” Ha. I was shocked when I found out that maternity leave is unpaid for most (88%) of Americans. Suddenly, what I had looked forward to as a joyous celebration of becoming a mother turned into an anxiety-inducing worry-fest of how-the-heck-we’d-ever-afford-a-maternity-leave.
Companies have the option of offering paid maternity leave. And some (12%) do, as they know it’s a way to attract female employees and retaining those employers for longer. Google, for example, has got it down:
[Subsidized child care] continues to be a benefit at Google, as are other family-friendly perks like a $500 stipend for takeout meals after a baby is born, paid leave of up to five months for new mothers and seven weeks for new fathers, and conveniences like dry cleaners on Google’s campus so people can complete errands during the workday. (from www.NYTimes.com)
For the remaining Americans who do not work for awesome companies like Google (see this slideshow for more companies that offer some sort of a paid leave), many are granted up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, many small business employees are exempt from this law, and many companies do not allow parents to utilize accrued disability leave pay during this time.
So, what is being done about this injustice towards the working American family? The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act was introduced to the House in Dec. 2013 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). The act currently has 75 co-sponsors (none from Kansas–surprise, surprise). Here’s some information about the act (and where I got those percentages I cited):
- Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act Fact Sheet
- Information from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) website
- Article from the New York Times that explains more about the act
- Congress.gov where you can follow the progress of the act
If you’re against clicking links, here’s what I understand:
- The FAMILY Act would provide up to 12 weeks of partially paid maternity leave (up to 66% of an employee’s income, up to a capped amount).
- The act would cover all employees who had earned income from employment for 12 months before filing for the benefit.
- The funding would come from small employee contributions (.2% of income).
- The pay would be distributed by a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave, as part of the Social Security Administration. The aforementioned employee contributions would cover administrative costs as well.
Lastly, Working Mother magazine is supporting this bill, and through it I found this online petition. It’s easy to just fill in your information. Here’s the link:
Did you know how far behind the U.S. is in paid parental leave? Would you support the FAMILY Act?