As of 2012, the United States was among the only three countries in the world that did not guarantee paid maternity leave. Years later the situation is still the same when it comes to Paid Maternity Leave in the US.
And though very few states and some private companies do offer maternity leave pay to their employees, the statistics as of a few years ago show that only 5% of low wage earners receive Paid Maternity Leave in the US.
- The Family and Medical Leave Act 1993 :
The FMLA or Family and Medical Leave Act 1993 is what guarantees maternity leave for mothers up to 12 weeks, job protected. However, the leave is unpaid and requires that you should have been working for a period of 12 months at the company and have completed at least 1250 hours of work in a company with at least 50 employees to be eligible for maternity leave according to the law.
- Maternity Leave – Disability Pay in the US:
Due to a low requiring Paid Maternity Leave in the US, most mothers have to resort to disability pay, something that you could benefit from as well. The STD or Short-Term Disability Insurance is a type of insurance you can purchase privately, and can be paid for by you or your employer. The insurance lets you take off of work time with a portion of your full pay for a time period of few weeks to up to 24 months even.
- Paid Leave is Good for the US Economy:
Research shows us that states that have implemented paid leave laws have either benefitted from it or haven’t experienced any disadvantages at the least. Offering paid leave significantly reduces the likelihood of employees dropping out completely, something low-income workers can not afford.
- Very Small Number of States Have Publicly Funded Paid Maternity Leave:
California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are among the extremely small number of US states with paid maternity leave laws. Paid Maternity Leave in California is offered to mothers at up to six weeks at 55% of their salary while Paid Maternity Leave NJ laws offer six weeks leave with two-thirds salary. Though the Department of Labor has been expanding its program to include more states into promoting paid maternity leave in the USA, the country is still the only developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave.
Do Employers Have to Paid Maternity Leave in the US?
The simple answer, of course, is no. US laws apart from very few states do not require employers to pay maternity leave as it is unpaid. Private companies, notably tech giants do offer paid maternal and even paternal leave, however.
- The Best Paid Maternity Leave in the US:
Tech giants in the US offer some of the best maternity leave policies in the country. Google offers 18 weeks maternity as well as 12 weeks paternity leave, Facebook offers equal time for all parents with a $4000 bonus on top. Similarly, Apple offers four weeks off before birth and sixteen more after birth, Yahoo, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter too have great maternity leave policies.
Paid Maternity Leave in the US Compared with Other Advanced Economies:
The USA is significantly lagging when it comes to paid maternity leave compared to other advanced and flourishing economies. The United Kingdom, for example, offers statutory maternity pay up to 90% of pay for up to 39 weeks, Sweden, on the other hand, offers more than 34 weeks maternity leave with an additional 180 days that can be taken or transferred to a partner.
- Paid Maternity Leave Around the World:
Apart from the US, Papua New Guinea, and Oman where maternity leave pay isn’t mandatory, in every other country in the world it absolutely is. Leave periods range from a mere 42 days (unpaid) in Papua New Guinea to a startling 410 days in Bulgaria (paid)! Depending on the country’s laws, the pay can be full or a portion of it during the leave period.
- FMLA Isn’t Very Helpful:
FMLA’s eligibility requirements on top of their being no pay for your maternity leave means a significant number of mothers don’t even qualify for the job-protected 12 weeks leave. It only covers less than three-quarters of US workers.
- Things Are Improving Now in the US:
Though US laws on paid maternity leave remain the same, more and more companies are taking up the initiative of designing better maternity leave policies that offer paid leave to their employees. Though these policies aren’t really much compared to the national policies of other developed countries, and only federal or state laws will be of help to all Americans, nevertheless it is a move in the right direction.