Thursday, February 28, 2013
U.S. maternity leave trails other countries, and going away may not mean 'out of the office'
The New York Times notes that "when it comes to paid parental leave, the United States is among the least generous in the world, ranking down with the handful of countries that don't offer any paid leave at all, among them Liberia, Suriname and Papua New Guinea."
That doesn't mean that some parents can't take leave at the birth of a child. It has been 20 years since the Family and Medical Leave Act became law. Under its provisions, large employers and public agencies must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, as well as continue health benefits, for birth or adoption of a child, to care for a spouse, parent or child who is ill or for an individual's own health issues. The provision applies to companies with 50 or more employees and it extends to employees who worked 1,250 or more hours within the previous 12 months.
Considering all the people that don't fit within those parameters and adding in the people who can't afford to take unpaid leave, and close to 40 percent of workers "fall through the cracks," wrote the Times' Tara Siegel Bernard.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 11 percent of private industry workers have access to paid family leave. The Institute for Women's Policy Research says those most likely to have paid leave are those with higher salaries in managerial or professional jobs at large companies, the newspaper said.
States are looking at other aspects of parental leave having nothing to do with pay, but rather focusing on time off. As an article in The Washington Post emphasized, being on leave doesn't always mean leaving your work behind. Deseret News