The United States is the only industrialized country to not guarantee paid maternity leave for mothers and their newborns. After Australia passed a parental leave law in 2010, the U.S was the last country to ensure mothers will not fall into debt, as many do, while on leave. The question is now whether legislators will press the issue to change it. Why is it important anyway? Paid maternity leave has been linked to lowered rates of postpartum depression and infant mortality rates, research recently concluded, as well as an increase in breastfeeding and childhood immunizations.
Yes, it is important. I cannot be objective in this article.
The average time given to U.S. mothers is 12 weeks leave with their newborn. That is three months. Three months to get to know your child and create a natural, organic, bond. Companies are required to secure employees positions all three months because of the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), but it is unpaid leave. Recently San Francisco passed legislation mandating six weeks paid leave for parental workers. Now California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and soon New York, will be the only states to have cities give workers paid leave. There are families being faced with debt because of not being paid. With a newborn, maybe more than one at once to care for, that is distasteful.
Recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded employed women who received 12 weeks or more pay were more likely to begin, and continue, breastfeeding their child. More than 40% of families do not meet FMLA’s requirements and are forced to leave without pay. 12% of workers are given paid leave in the U.S. Women who have less than 12 weeks of pay are apt to suffer from depression. Depression will never just affect the parent.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) compiled research from 41 countries. The United States is the only country among the 41 tested that does not mandate paid maternity leave. In any of the other 40 countries, the smallest amount of paid leave is no less than two months. In comparison, there are countries that offer paid leave for over a year. Estonia tops any other country with a year and a half worth of pay.
The United States has work to do. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has said this issue will be pushed if she is elected into office. This could be a real chance for the United States, nobody wants an unhappy Momma.