I don't have a child, but on behalf of my parent friends who are working and have to make special arrangements, I was outraged to read this Think Progress story about how paid parental leave in the U.S. measures up compared to other nations.
The graphic alone ends up making Italy, Norway and Canada seem like the only places that understand that whole parent/baby bonding thing that I hear is supposed to grow really awesome, well-adjusted adults:
Out of 178 nations, the U.S. is one of three that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits, let alone paid leave for fathers, which more than 50 of these nations offer…American women are offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which exempts companies with fewer than 50 paid employees, but in 2011, only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public workers reported that they had access to paid maternity leave through their employer.
The Working Mother blog has more:
And yet only about half of all first-time moms in the United States are able to take any paid leave after childbirth; and just a fifth of working women with young children receive leave with full pay, according to a review of the most recent Census data by the Washington, DC–based advocacy group National Partnership for Women & Families. Nor is the situation getting better. A Families and Work Institute report found only 16 percent of the companies it surveyed offered fully paid maternity leave in 2008, down from 27 percent in 1998.
In a culture where more and more women are working single mothers (and women who are generally castigated for subpar parenting skills outside of traditional marriages) it only adds insult to injury for companies to offer almost no time off for maternity leave. I have friends who have taken unpaid time off, all of their vacation time and the like in order to extend time with their infants. Have you been affected by the lack of paid maternity leave at most companies in the U.S.?