I was so happy to hear recently that my friend Carrie is pregnant with her third child. Carrie is a working mom who has worked both part-time and full-time. But about a year ago she accepted a new full-time position with a bank. So when she told me her employer doesn’t provide any maternity leave benefits, I couldn’t help but be shocked. Shocked. Even though I know very well paid maternity leave is not standard in this country. In fact, I discussed the issue briefly in my very first post on WMAG. I just can’t help but be shocked (over and over again) that many US employers still do not offer maternity leave benefits. According to MomsRising.org, 51 percent of new mothers in the U.S. have no paid leave at all.
Without paid maternity leave on the horizon, Carrie decided to leave her job, although her baby isn’t due until later this year. Many other expecting mothers do the same thing if they’re financially able to. But, what about the mothers who need that paycheck? Who can’t afford to take four or six weeks unpaid after having a baby?
Opponents to paid maternity leave believe if you can’t take unpaid time off, then you shouldn’t get pregnant. They don’t want their tax dollars going to Americans who can’t afford having a baby in the first place.
Other countries like Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho feel the same way. The U.S. joins them as the only 4 countries in the world who don’t offer paid leave to new mothers.
So what do you think? Does your employer offer maternity benefits? Does the U.S. need to get its priorities straight and give working parents a freakin’ bone?
Back to my friend, Carrie… After she gave her notice, her employer offered her a part-time schedule to stay. She accepted and now is the first part-timer in her department. I’m glad they recognized the value of retaining a good employee. She’ll still go unpaid during her maternity leave. But at least now she has something valuable to go back to.