Here’s Why The USA Not Having Paid Family Leave Is A Damn Shame For Everyone

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Seriously America, how is this still a thing?!?

Since we just celebrated Mother’s Day, it was fitting that one of our fave shows ‘Last Week Tonight’ with John Oliver did a whole segment on the absurd hypocrisy surrounding this celebration, especially give that our society dis-honors mothers, and essentially all members of a family in a profound way – by not having any form of paid family leave.

Actually, we should point out, as the video below does, that there is a paid family leave program, but you basically have to be a unicorn to qualify for it.

To put it on a global scale, America is one of only two countries in the world that does not have any form of family leave paternal or maternal), the other being Papua New Guinea. Or if you want to really break it down, we are literally the ONLY industrialized nation in the world that does not offer adequate paid family leave for parents.

It is such a dire need that even the Department of Labor is campaigning for the US to #leadonleave (guys, we have to HAVE it in the first place to “lead”…).

There are far too many misconceptions around paid family leave (which, once again, are busted with good ol’ fashioned statistics and facts in the video below) such as it will cost employers too much money to have staff out for a number of weeks or months on leave due to the birth of a child. But studies have shown employees end up paying a considerable amount of MORE money when they have to hire on new staff and train them, offer insurance benefits etc. It is actually beneficial in the long run for companies to pay for parental leave and have that staff member come back to their job after a certain amount of time.

The lack of leave for working women is also a grave gender discrimination which needs to be abolished stat. Women of child-bearing age who work for a company or someone other than themselves are essentially forced to choose between a career or raising a family, unlike the majority of men who are not burdened with the same dilemma. Why should a woman have to choose? If she wants to continue career momentum, why should she be “punished” by the discriminatory laws of the American workforce because she chose to give birth to her child during her working years?

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Now to be clear, we are talking about the majority of average middle and working class citizens. There are definitely certain private companies who do take care of their female employees and ensure they have the adequate leave they need. Take for instance Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki who had been an executive at Google for a number of years before heading up the world’s most popular user-generated video platform.

She wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of paid family leave by showing how it affected Google. When they increased maternity leave from 12 – 18 weeks in 2007, the rate of new mothers leaving the company fell by 50%! That’s no small number to brush aside, that is a considerable and vital amount of a company’s infrastructure, and clearly they are better off for recognizing the benefits.

Susan is luckier than most as she has had 5 children during the course of her career and understands why paid leave is necessary.

When you look further afield, there are other countries who just get it. In Sweden, for example, they have a 480 day total parental leave mandate, 60 days of which must be taken by the father. Of course they are a much more gender equal country than the United States, but hey if it is working for them and also working to break down gender stereotypes that only women should stay at home with kids, then it is about time the US made this issue a priority.

As part of her 2016 Presidential Campaign trail, Hillary Clinton (who is so far the only candidate to advocate paid family leave) released a Mother’s Day video focused on advocating on why this issue is important to her and will benefit all American families.

Mothers and fathers around America should be able to choose for themselves when to have a family and how they want to fit it in with their respective careers. The culture of gender stereotypes and limiting or non-existent laws shouldn’t dictate how they go about this important decision.

It is embarrassing for American’s to tout this nation as the “biggest and the best” while they overlook a major issue concerning not just half of the population, but the majority of it. When families benefit and are looked after, the economy thrives.

We are so glad John Oliver called out the incredible hypocrisy of celebrating mother’s day in a grossly consumerist fashion, yet failing to take care of a crucial aspect of her life.

And let’s not forget that Mother’s Day founder and original campaigner Anna Jarvis fought for this day of recognition to honor moms for their tireless and matchless service they offered to communities. However in 1914 it was President Woodrow Wilson who declared Mother’s Day a national holiday after Anna’s tireless campaigning and advocacy in honor of her own mother, but soon after it became a highly commercialized day and soon lost it’s original intent. Sadly that is true of Mother’s Day even today, yet we have a whole new fight on our hands. Anna would STILL be disappointed, and probably more so because of the blatant way we claim mothers are important, yet forget about their needs when it comes to children and their careers.

Take a look:


 

 

 

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