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268356 tn?1236006204

Maternity Leave in US versus other countries

Okay, I live in the US and I am so jealous of the maternity benefits that others are receiving in other countries. Canada, Australia, etc, etc. We are supposed to be a world leader but are severely lacking when it comes to this. Don't get me wrong, we are covered by the family leave act, but only if our company is required to offer it. And well, frankly, there are loop holes. It is sad that our system forces women to choose between being able to pay for their bills and staying home for the first few months. Do you other USers realize that we are only 1 of 5 countries that do not offer some sort of paid maternity leave as a guarantee? Among the 168 countries that do offer paid maternity leave, 98 offer 14 or more weeks of paid leave. The five countries that offer no paid maternity leave: Lesotha, Liberia, Swaiziland, Papua New Guinea, and the US. What is worse is that 73 countries offer paid breastfeeding breaks. In the US, we have no breastfeeding rights on paper. I know with all the other issues right now that this one seems to be low on the totem pole, but it is still important afterall.

So, here is my question and my challenge.

What can we do to change our countries thinking? The most common problem that is brought up, is who is going to pay for the maternity leave? How much should it be and how long? Some companies offer short term disability that has paid maternity benefits that replace up to 80% of your income. Other companies require you to use your sick and annual leave in order to get paid (such as mine), which doesn't seem fair, because once baby is here and in day care you then have to go with unpaid days off when baby gets sick.

So, what is your proposed solution and how do you think we should go about getting it implemented? State, Government, or both? Be as specific as possible in your answer.
24 Responses
561451 tn?1257479950
Hmmm, well I am actually work for a company here in the US that offers 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, and I am on paid leave right now that isn't my sick days or vacation!  But that is a hugh government company that serves this country a lot!!!  Along with other countries!  I also get my pumping breaks paid.....

I know it's unfair, but it's my union that gave me these rights!

Also, I do think there is something that this country should do!  But I bet they ( most companies) feel that at this very moment nothing would pass, because that would put more moms who are willing to work still, and less jobs!  And let's face it, we're kind of getting swirled around a toilet right now ready to go down the hole!  

A lot of companies wont do paid breaks for pumping though, because for some stupid reason there are a lot of people in this country that feel breastfeeding is inappropriate.(sp?)  People have cows when a women is on the front of a magazine breastfeeding!  So what I don't get is, how can all these people be find with the porn industry and think boobs are so fabulous yet, they think breastfeeding is wrong?  When was formula invented?  Because everyone used to breastfeed!  It's natural and a way of life and people need to get over it!  

I think what you need to do, is have people from every state, write to their legislature, and include a petition from tons of people who support the idea, give a random number of say 5000 or more signatures, and send it in!  The more people who support it, the better legislature would listen!  That's how I see it.  The only way to get things to change is to start and make a different yourself!!!  

561451 tn?1257479950
Ooops forgot to add, that my union offers it, because we all have union dues each month we have to pay, so technically i'm paying for my own rights through my company, atleast a part of it!
187316 tn?1386360282
Did you read babytalk magazine?
461781 tn?1285613081
FMLA is required if your company has over 50 employees.  However, paid leave is NOT mandatory and your job is only protected for 12 misserable weeks.

With so many women in this country that would support such a meassure, I don't understand why women have not made movements, protests, etc to get something done.  This government ***** for women, I mean its not even a law that women get paid the same as men for the same work!

About breastfeeding, I find it ridiculous that women rather bottle feed than breast feed.  Breast milk is the best thing you can give to your child, there are so many health issues that you can prevent on your child by breastfeeing.  AND its cheap!

I think that we should write a petition and pass it around for women to give to other women to get enough signatures so we can get better rights.
268356 tn?1236006204
Yes, I do read babytalk, but I don't recall an article about paid maternity leave.

Just to let you guys know. I love my job. I love where I work and I love what I do. I work for the state of TN at a higher education institution and it astounds me that we do not offer anything more than the FMLA. There is no paid maternity benefits unless you use up your sick time and annual leave and there is no childcare benefits either like at other corporations. I know that my work is appreciated, but I feel like my rights as a woman are not. We should offer short term disability that covers maternity leave and there should be more flexibilty for working mothers who need to take time off for doctor appointments well and sick as well as child care costs or even a little time out of the day to pump for breastfeeding. The main reason for working for the state is the benefits that are not offered by other organizations. I do not get paid as much as I could by working for the state versus private sector. I'm a systems analyst that makes about 25,000$ less a year working for the state than at any other organization. That is a big difference. Am I saying that it would be better for me to go to work for another organization, maybe not. Like I said, I love my job and I love the people I work with and the general culture of where I work. Those are important too. I just feel like there should be a little more.
456991 tn?1239310832
I get 3 months paid leave plus I'll have my vacation or some sick time if I want extra time, and I work for Bank of America so I'm not complaining too bad LOL... plus we get childcare reimbursement and all that who who!! LOL
187316 tn?1386360282
No in this months babytalk they had an article talking about how we are one of the only countries not to have paid maternity leave and what to do about it. I thought you read it because you summarized beautifully! :)

If your curious to see it I posted it like a week ago in my journal.
304970 tn?1331429594
I get 12 weeks (unpaid) FMLA. I can use all my vacation and sick time which is a total of 4 work weeks.. Big freaking deal. I hate this....I have huge issues with it.. But I have no easy fix...

I am not sure what to propose to rectify this problem. I had never thought about it until it "happened" to me. It does seem unfair, however I don't know that it is anyone's responsibility but mine that I fell pregnant and I don't feel that it is the government's job to take care of me for extended periods of time.. I think that if more positions were unionized (such as Ashie's)... Union dues are a great way to supplement extended leaves. I also think that all employers, nationwide, should be forced to deduct and participate in a short-term disability and advocate for their employees. It would be deducted from our paychecks, but honestly, most women at some point go on maternity leave just like everyone (hopefully) will collect social security someday. I mean I feel I should have to contribute, but I feel it should be business owners and employers responsibility to see that proper amounts are dedcuted to cover such leave. At least a % of your income while you are out. I honestly don't know how other countries keep businesses thriving if they have people out for a year!? I saw a post where Canadian residents get like a year. That seems excessive to me. If I were business owner, I would be livid if I had an employee come to me and expect me to be excited that they just told me they would be out a year and I have to guarantee their position? Just seems like that wouldn't work either. I dont have a solution, but I think petitions are great.. I would just have to come up with something I was comfortable signing that works for employers (business owners, employers) and Mom's (me & you)!
561451 tn?1257479950
I just thought of something, I wonder if the other countries, don't have high ranking women, as to why they offer such benefits.  I mean, here in the US you'll find many high ranking women today, Women are stronger then they were say uh 50 yor so years ago, and I wonder if they feel that there are such women here that they don't need to offer such things...

Of course I don't help that statistic much lol...  I have a freaking doctorate in Engineering, With degree's in Accounting and Business Management.  I had high expectations for my self being a bit younger, but I also graduated from college and high school early.  I do also get paid more then most men around here, but that's because I do such a great job at what I do.  So who knows.  Just some random thought...

I think if a business really wanted to do well, they would offer 10 to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave and even give you the option when you start to have it that way, and deduct a certain percentage from your pay checks to help pay for such a thing.  In my opinion that wouldn't be that bad.  And then the company could offer to pay a small percentage as well, just to show how much they sort of care about their employee's.  

Yes it may not add up to what you fully get paid when your actually working, but it would be some sort of money coming in!  And then if for some reason you ever quit or get fired they would have to pay you your money that they've been taking out!  Does that make sense?  

But, I did read something about a month ago, for atleast Washington state that  come January 1, there would be paid leave for the husband/Dad to stay home when the baby is born, and requiring that women have paid maternity leave!  I think it's a bill or something their working on!  I believe it would be 10 weeks for the women and 4 weeks for the men.  

I really hope they can figure something out!  If the government really wants to complain about all these people being on the state medical, or state assistance, they should really get their butts in gear and get working on something!!  (not saying it's a bad thing if you are on these things, I just hear a lot of people complain about having to pay for others)  I personally don't care for paying for it, because EVERYONE deserve medical coverage!!!  And now adays food assistance!  
268356 tn?1236006204
I was thinking that requiring employers to offer short term disability plans to employees would be one solution. A short term disability plan would allow for a percentage of income to be covered for however long the norm is (I think 6 months). Most employers think that offering sick days and vacation days is enough, but I must say it isn't. An example, other than just maternity leave that this would help is when a family member is gravely sick. There is a gal that works in my same department, whose husband has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She took of 5 weeks so that she could be with her husband as he recieved chemo. They will be taking a few weeks off from the chemo and then going through another round shortly. Well, unfortunately, since hubby can't work right now as sick as he is, she may not even be able to be around during the next round of chemo because they have to be able to keep a roof over their heads. Mandatory short term disability would allow for the supplement of both of their incomes for a while and for the most part cover her during the intermittent time she needs to take off from work.

I don't think it is the governments responsiblity to take on the full cost of any type of paid leave plan, it would be nice if it was a small amount that came out of our paychecks like social security that would allow us to recoup a portion of our income for let's say 8-12 weeks. I would be willing to pay the extra for something like that. And since it comes out of everyone's paycheck who recieves a W2, it could be extended for men as well so that Dad can take off some time after baby is born to help Mom get around or better yet have the ability to take off for the labor without fear of not having time off to attend.

I am with you about the year, I'm not sure that a year is feasible, but the 12 weeks already offered is we just need some better perks along with it. Even my DH, who is self-employed, said that something like social security for paid time off for FMLA events would be acceptable to him. Or if there was a government subsidized short term disability plan for employers to offer to employees, that would be acceptable too.

Any other thoughts or ideas?
461781 tn?1285613081
Ashie- Some countries in Europe have more women than men in high state official positions in parliament etc. that the US does not have, we have a very low ammount of women in high goverment positions.

LauraB-  I agree, I would totally pay something to cover my dissability.  I actually do, I have short term dissability and I pay something like $12 a month, I think that is reasonable.  HOWEVER, the way our Short Term dissability at work is designed, I would only get 60% of my misserable salary AND it only covers of 6 weeks of post-partum.  I work for benefits, and I'm constantly complaining about our maternity benefits.  Specially since I pay 100% of my short-term dissability premiums, i should be entitled to more than 6 weeks of pay!!!  

I think that a full year is excessive for ANY employer, BUT 12 weeks is not enough time for bonding and providing the best support for your newborn.  Especially when you breastfeed and you are supossed to BF until the baby is 1 year old!
594189 tn?1386920207
I'm not pregnant yet but my job offers aflac. They have a plan that will pay me for giving birth to my child. So right after I deliver I will get money. I believe it is 2K.
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