Monday, October 8, 2012

Paid Maternity Leave -- Y U NO GIVE?

Today, I kick off with a graphic:

I saw this article back in May on and it rattled around in my brainspace for the past few months:


Here's the tl;dr version:

Now, I'm not saying we should run full force down the path of our crunchy neighbors to the north, but it is curious that Pakistan, South Africa and Mexico give mothers at least three months of paid leave.  And that's the lowest end of the spectrum.

Under FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), American women have their jobs protected for 12 weeks.  But FMLA only provides you with the time off and indicates that your position will still be there when you get back -- it does not stipulate that your employer must pay you during your absence.  Additionally, FMLA doesn't apply to any employer with less than 50 employees.  So if a woman works for a small company, that puts the employer in a bind, so they are free to backfill that pregnant employee if they so choose.

It's crazy to me that we tolerate this.  How are we so sadly lagging behind other developed countries in recognizing the importance of a mother's time with her child?  This isn't just crunchy-granola-breath-hippie-liberal-arts-major talk.

Some highlights from the articles:
  • Physical contact with infants keeps them calmer and helps encourage brain development.
  • It also lowers stress (cortisol levels) in the mother and staves off depression.
  • It allows mothers the opportunity to breast feed which has been shown to:
    • Increase a child's overall health
    • Increase a child's IQ
    • Reduce a mother's risks for hypertension and diabetes
  • And it allows mother and baby time to bond.  
How is this not important enough to gripe about? 

In 2010, Pew Research reported that about 18% of U.S. women will not give birth during their lifetimes.  Which means that 82% will.  If 50.8% of our population is female and 4 out of 5 of them are birthing a child...

That's a lot of ladies who probably would like to spend time with their babies.  

Just saying.

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