In Santa Fe, N.M., Linda Strauss McIlroy, a first-time mother, is aggravating to get acclimated to the anticipation of anon putting her 2-month-old boy in day affliction so she can get aback to work.
“It’s adamantine for me to brainstorm abrogation him,” she says. “Just not actuality with him all day, abrogation him with a basic stranger. And again that’s it till, you know, I retire. It’s affectionate of crazy to anticipate about it.”
Across the bound in Vancouver, British Columbia, Suzanne Dobson is aback at assignment afterwards 14 months of paid maternology leave.
“It was great,” she says. “I was still authoritative appealing acceptable money for actuality at home.”
Across the ocean, in Sweden, Magnus Larsson is attractive advanced to agreeable 16 months of affectionate leave at 80 percent pay with his girlfriend. They are assured their aboriginal babyish in a week.
With little accessible debate, the United States has called a radically altered access to maternology leave than the blow of the developed world. The United States and Australia are the alone automated countries that don’t accommodate paid leave for new mothers nationally, admitting there are exceptions in some U.S. states.
Australian mothers accept it better, however, with one year of job-protected leave. The U.S. Ancestors and Medical Leave Act provides for 12 weeks of job-protected leave, but it alone covers those who assignment for beyond companies.
To put it accession way, out of 168 nations in a Harvard University abstraction aftermost year, 163 had some anatomy of paid maternology leave, abrogation the United States in the aggregation of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.
How did it end up this way?
“To me it’s a puzzle. I can accord you all the arguments that accept been used, but that still doesn’t absolutely break the puzzle,” says Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, a assistant of adolescent development and apprenticeship at Columbia University.
According to Brooks-Gunn, some countries, like France, broadcast maternology leave afterwards Apple War II to action falling birthrates and animate childbearing. That altercation has been missing in the United States, area clearing has ensured citizenry growth.
Jane Waldfogel, additionally a assistant at Columbia, says accession allotment of the addle is that the European and American feminist movements had differing goals.
In Europe, feminists emphasized appropriate analysis for mothers, including maternology leave and adolescent care.
“The American feminist movement didn’t appetite to apprehend annihilation about mothers,” Waldfogel says. “They capital according rights for women and didn’t accent appropriate treatment.”
The U.S. feminist movement has confused abroad from this viewpoint, but that hasn’t led to a change in maternology rules. One acumen is that U.S. women are acclimated to accepting about three months off and accede it the norm, Waldfogel says.
For many, of course, that barometer feels alien. To Strauss McIlroy in Santa Fe, those three months absolutely feel inadequate.
“I thought, actuality affectionate of a career woman, that I ability be one of those who’d be affectionate of attractive advanced to activity back, that I’d be all babied out,” she says. “But I’m absolutely actual afraid about it.”
In Canada, Dobson’s animosity about her son, Gavin, and the country’s maternology leave rules are a bigger fit.
“I don’t anticipate I would accept been accessible to duke him over to anyone at six months,” Dobson says. “At 12 months, he’s a little person, and he can affectionate of acquaint you what he wants and doesn’t want.”
There accept been several attempts at introducing paid maternology leave in the United States. The Clinton administering capital to acquiesce states to use unemployment funds for maternology leaves, but that was attempt bottomward by the Bush administering afterwards action from business groups anxious with added accession to accompaniment unemployment funds.
A bill alien in the House by Reps. Pete Stark and George Miller, both D-Calif., would authorize a armamentarium that would alter 55 percent of pay for workers on FMLA leave. Contributions to the armamentarium would appear from employers.
“There are a brace of axial problems back we attending at paid leave legislation. The aboriginal is: who’s advantageous for it?” asks Michael Eastman, administrator of activity action at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
U.S. administration already pay $21 billion a year in absolute costs accompanying to the FMLA, Eastman says, in accession to aberrant costs like added overtime for those who ample in for workers on leave.
Waldfogel agrees that it’s too abundant to ask administration to accept the amount of introducing paid maternology leave.
“As continued as what we accept in apperception … is allurement administration to both authority the job accessible and pay the salary, we’re activity to get amazing attrition from employers,” she says.
California went a altered route, and aftermost year alien ancestors leave with about 50 percent pay for six weeks, paid from a armamentarium that employees, not employers, pay into.
“Once they did that, there were no best any objections from employers,” Waldfogel says.
Five states – California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island – and Puerto Rico crave administration to accept acting affliction programs, which pay allowances if the abundance is authentic as a affliction by a doctor. A few others accept baby affliction programs that pay subsidies to low-income families for up to two years.
In New York City, Kelsey Goss, a public-school teacher, is aggravating to body her apprenticeship business so she and her bedmate can break afloat financially back she goes on contributed maternology leave in October.
“When I acquaint bodies that as a abecedary I get aught paid maternology leave, they’re stunned,” she says. “In a job like that, that’s about demography affliction of kids, those are the benefits?”
How does she anticipate her allowances analyze with Europe?
“I don’t alike appetite to know,” she says.
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