The United States is unique in the sense that it is one of the few countries that does not provide paid leave for new parents. The Family and Medical Leave Act is the only current law implemented in all 50 states that guarantees job protection and unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks. Originally passed in 1993, it was considered to be widely controversial and somewhat expected to fail. However, 26 years later, it has had little negative effect on big companies, who were once so afraid of it. With that being said, isn’t it time we catch up to the rest of the world?
Bulgaria is ranked No. 1 in the world with 59 weeks of paid leave. New Zealand provides 18 weeks of paid maternity leave and is expected to increase it to 22 weeks soon. Poland and Estonia both ranked in 10th place at 20 weeks of paid leave.
How is it that we, the United States of America, can be so developed yet so behind? Twelve weeks is hardly enough time for a new parent to bond with their newborn before returning to work. This is unacceptable. Those 12 weeks of pay are crucial to some families, so at times they are not able to have the luxury of taking the entire 12 weeks off without serious financial repercussions. It is time for updates to our system now more than ever before.
Julia Brotherston • St. Louis