The United States of America is such an amazing country; we’re number one in the Olympics this year, we’re about to elect the first female president (fingers crossed), and we’re the only industrialized nation without paid family leave. Wait…maybe that last one is not so great. Yeah, on second thought the last one sucks. And we need to do something about it.
If you’ve been paying any attention during the past couple of years, you’ve probably heard that quote quite a few times. In case you haven’t, here are some of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad facts involving paid parental leave in America: America is one of three countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave. This assurance varies across nations, from 12 weeks in Iran to 40 weeks in the United Kingdom. Yeah, the UK offers new moms the big 4-0 weeks paid leave and the USA doesn’t even fully guarantee unpaid leave. How are we not all rioting right now?
What about the dads, though? The pops, the daddio’s, the padres of the world? I mean, sure, they aren’t the ones pushing a human being out or getting their stomachs sliced open, but they deserve some time with their kid too, right? Well, the lucky male citizens of 70 countries around the world are also guaranteed at least some paternity leave.
Okay, you may be thinking, “Just because leave isn’t over regulated by the government doesn’t mean that no one in America has access to parental leave! Businesses simply decide all of the details on their own.” Wrong-o. Only 13% of citizens are offered paid parental leave from their employers.
“Whatever, though! This is America. (And we need to make it great… again!) We don’t just give things away for free! That’s sexist that women would even ask to be paid basically for getting knocked up.” – Someone somewhere in this country, probably.
With an issue such as paid parental leave, it’s important to point out that parents are struggling through this terrible lack of rights. According to an analysis for the Department of Labor, nearly one in four women who took leave to care for a new baby took only two weeks or fewer off. These women literally just birthed another human and returned to work in less that 14 days.
Moreover, more than half of women aren’t covered by unpaid leave, leading to more than a quarter of them to either be fired or forced to quit in order to take care of their child.
If you’re still not convinced that paid leave is necessary for the sake of a happier, better developed population, let me tell you about the economic benefits for everyone.
California is one of the few states in USA to have a statewide policy guaranteeing at least partial pay for new parents. More than 90% of employers in this state have claimed “either positive or no noticeable effect of profitability, turnover, and morale,” as reported from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. Yes, you read the correctly. Companies have either not lost money or made more money by giving parental leave.
Let’s look at another example: Google increased paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 18 weeks. From this seemingly economically irresponsible move, the amount of women that left their job fell by 50%. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcichi reported that “it’s much better for Google’s bottom line to avoid costly turnover, and to retain the valued expertise, skills, and perspectives of our employees who are mothers.”
In case your head is still buried in the sand, yet another study found that women who took advantage of their state’s program for paid leave were 39% less likely to receive public assistance and 40% less likely to receive food stamps in the year following a child’s birth compared to those who didn’t take any leave.
The facts from all directions are undeniably clear. Do you hate economic growth and stability? Do you hate babies and happiness? Great! Here’s your fast-track to Hell. If not, well, time to make a change.