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The Facts About Maternity Leave In The US

Published: April 5, 2016

What do Papua New Guinea, Oman, and the US have in common? They are the only countries left in the world that do not guarantee paid maternity leave.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics only 12% of American have access to paid parental leave, which is considered a benefit by employers.  All paid parental leave policies remain up to the individual employers.  Only four states have publicly funded paid maternity leave.  California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island all offer between 4-6 weeks with different salary percentages.  President Obama gave federal employees six weeks of paid leave when they became parents at the end of 2014.  The plan of making this country wise is offering a lot less than other nations.

Unpaid leave is hard to come by as well since the FMLA only covers 59% of US workers. In order to receive the 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, the parent must be working for companies with over 50 employees and have worked over 1250 hours during the last year with them. Since the leave is unpaid, many parents choose not to take it – 64% of women and 36% of men according to the Department of Labor

How do the leave policies contribute to gender pay gaps?

At the end of the day, because maternity leave policies are left up to private corporations and not the government, motherhood and fatherhood is a luxury only some people can afford.  Approximately 43% of women with children leave voluntarily at some point in their careers.  Family responsibilities was the reason 61% of non-working females aged 25-54 in the US left their jobs in a recent poll, meanwhile only 37% of men had the same reason.   A study from the University of Massachusetts found for every child a women has, her salary actually decreases by 4%.  On the flipside, for every child a man has, their earnings increase by 6%.

Stay tuned for articles on the upcoming FMLA changes and how it will affect leave policies and your organization.

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