Federal Legislation for Paid Family Leave Policies to Protect Parents and Children

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Support for nationally guaranteed paid-leave for parents after the birth or adoption of a child is imperative. Despite partisanship, this is a cause that affects virtually everyone in our country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 100 million employees in the U.S. have no access to paid family leave, and one in four new mothers are forced to return to work within 10 days after giving birth.

What is paid maternal and paternal leave?

Maternal and paternal leave is the amount of time allotted after the birth or adoption of a child that both the mother and father receive in order to adequately care for their new child. Often, paternal leave is not offered for new fathers, leaving the remaining partner to compensate. Furthermore, these extended absences from work almost always go unpaid by the government or employer. Currently, the United States is the only developed nation in the world without federally required paid family leave. Only four states in America require paid maternity leave, resulting in forty-six remaining states having no policies to ensure paid leave be offered. This must change.

Why support paid family leave?

For too many workers in our country, taking unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of their child is simply not plausible. When sufficient leave is not taken, women report feeling greater rates of depression, stress, poor health, and overall family stress, as opposed to women who took longer leaves of absence from work. Furthermore, women who return to work without leave are less likely to take their new child to attend the necessary doctor’s visits, nor do these children receive essential vaccinations. Paid parental leave has also been found to decrease the infant mortality rate by as much as ten percent, according to a studies performed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Even after infancy, the benefits of paid parental leave can be seen in the statistics that show that children whose parents could not take such leave resulted in having childhood behavioral problems that followed them through adulthood. Specifically, allowing new mothers paid time off of work allows them to fully recover from the birth and has been shown to lessen the severity of postpartum conditions.

Opponents to this cause don’t necessarily dispute the immense benefits of paid family leave, they argue that each business should have the right to choose what they do and do not implement in terms of leave. There must be legislation to create a baseline, though because those who need it the most are the least likely to receive it from their employer.
You may be wondering, how much will this cost?
On the contrary, paid maternal and paternal leave is lucrative for businesses. California has enacted such laws and has seen that 87% of businesses responded that parental leave did not increase their costs. Rather, it saved them money by greatly decreasing the employee turnover rates when parents had a child. Worker retention and loyalty are greatly increased when employers offer these kinds of benefits.
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This is NOT about partisanship – this is about legislation to protect families. According to the Pew Research Center, 82% of people support paid maternal leave, thus it is time to start a public movement. Both Democrats and Republicans have shown some degree of support for this idea, and 2018 is the year to act to create change.
Paid family leave affects everyone. In a society that broadcasts that motherhood is one of the most essential aspects to being a woman, why are we doing so little to protect our families?