The United States is still behind all other high-income industrialized nations when it comes to providing paid leave to parents. And employers are not filling the gap — despite many providing paid leave benefits beyond legal requirements, according to a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
The Family and Medical Leave Act celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and provides eligible employees with up to 12-weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for reasons that include to care or bond with a new child. The U.S. is one of only four countries in the world that does not provide paid maternity leave to workers, found the report.
Only slightly more than one-third of all workers in the U.S. work in workplaces with paid maternity leave, according to the Family and Medical Leave in 2012 Survey. Even among the top 100 most family-friendly companies, as selected by Working Mother magazine, close to one in five only provide one to two weeks paid maternity or none at all.
In good news, since 2006, paid leave for birth fathers and adoptive parents has become more common. There has been a marked increase in the number of top 100 companies that are providing paid leave to adoptive parents, from 54 per cent in 2006 to 80 per cent in 2012, found the report.
"The evidence is clear: paid parental leave is good for children, for mothers and for fathers," said Barbara Gault, vice-president and executive director at IWPR. "The absence of paid parental leave is particularly pernicious for low-waged families, hurting both the current and next generation."
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