Sunday September 25th 2016

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Maternity leave – Are U.S. laws favoring families?

I live in SE Europe at the moment. In my host country, Macedonia, women can take up to 9 months of paid leave during pregnancy. One month before the baby is born, and eight (8) months afterwards. We in the U.S. are lucky to get eight (8) weeks of paid leave, and even this is considered gratuitous. But what laws govern maternity leave in the U.S.? And what are the social standards?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 is the current legislation that sets the national precedent for American households when welcoming a new child into the family (by adoption or birth).  Basically, if you are a federal, state or public worker and meet certain employment criteria, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a child. Your benefit is that you get your job back.   Financial aid is nil.  State support non-existent.  What???

This is one of the reasons that I live in another country. I’m planning an extended maternity leave and cannot afford to have a job in the U.S. and not get paid to take off.   Plus, the underlying message here is that my new child, my family even, is a burden to the state.  Who wants to live in a place where the perpetuation of the race is seen as a personal – and not a social – action?

And how behind the times we are!  How does the U.S. compare with other countries?  Simply, horribly.  African, South American and Asian countries do better for women and families than the U.S.  But which countries put their money where their mouths are?

Canada – 50 weeks paid leave (up to 55% or $447 per week)
China – 9 weeks paid leave (100% of annual pay)
Denmark – 52 weeks paid leave (100% of annual pay)
France – 16 weeks paid leave (100% of annual pay) + 2 years unpaid leave
Macedonia – 39 weeks paid leave (100% of annual pay)
US – 16 weeks unpaid leave

This is not even to mention PATERNITY leave in some countries! I object. I simply object to the U.S. system that does not value family life.  I object to a “modern” and “civilized” country that does not financially back its new generations.  Does anyone else think that 4 months of unpaid leave is totally unrealistic?  Does anyone have any other experiences with maternity leave to share?

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