“The rest of the world has figured out that paid family leave is good for business, families, and economic growth. It’s time for the US to get on board.” – Janet Walsh
A report from the International Labour Organization report from 2014 revealed a striking fact about the United States: That they, along with Papua New Guinea, stood alone (among 185 countries surveyed) in not guaranteeing some form of paid family leave or maternity leave.
Janet Walsh, writing for Human Rights Watch, summarizes the findings of the report:
The US is alone among developed countries in failing to guarantee at least some form of paid family leave. Out of 185 countries covered in a 2014 International Labour Organization report on maternity and paternity leave, only two countries lack paid maternity leave under law: the United States and Papua New Guinea. At least 70 countries guarantee paid paternity leave. Many countries also have other forms of family leave insurance. Paid family leave is increasingly funded through social insurance – not directly by employers.
Sure, the Family and Medical Leave Act enables some workers with newborn or adopted children or family members with serious medical conditions to take unpaid leave. A good option, but one many families can’t afford. Only 12 percent of private industry workers have paid family leave.
Making slow steps in the right direction, “A bill introduced in the US Senate this week could make a huge difference for working families. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act would create a national paid family and medical leave system.”
Walsh points out that lack of such a program harms both workers and businesses.
Millions of US workers are suffering from damaged health, drained finances, and shrinking career prospects because federal law lacks any guaranteed paid family leave. Businesses are also losing out on the benefits of a national paid leave program, including increased productivity and reduced turnover costs.
I will await the frantic cries of SOCIALISM! and COMMUNISM! from the Republican party, if this is even reported in the mainstream media, that is. It probably won’t be.
One has to wonder what the hell took so long. The fact that the richest, most powerful country in the world can be so far behind in basic rights for workers and their families is quite literally incredible. Not exactly surprising, perhaps, but incredible.