Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A quiz and some facts

Tanya over at The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog gave a pop-quiz yesterday. Before you freak out, the final grade will be based on your answer.

Which are the four countries in the world that do not provide paid maternity leave, according to Moms Rising?*
Think hard. LONG AND HARD. Don't cheat! No googling the answers!

OK. Write down your answers somewhere.

The answer:
Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Liberia, and the United States of America
That's not a misprint. The good-old-U-S-of-A is a part of that group. Some of you might be thinking-- but we have FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), but that legislation only covers twelve weeks of UNPAID leave for family or medical care, and it does not require your employer to pay for your maternity leave.

I work for the Federal government, and I can take all of my annual leave, plus twelve weeks of paid sick leave for the birth of a child, and even then, I could take additional time unpaid if my supervisors approve it. I am spoiled... for the US anyway. But why, as a Federal employee, do I have such wonderful benefits-- benefits that our Congress people are unwilling to guarantee other Americans?

One of the most important facts presented at Moms Rising, IMO, is that paid maternity leave and reduced infant mortality go hand in hand, while unpaid leave results in no benefit. Also, breastfeeding is challenging, and adding the stress of needing to get back to work on top of trying to breastfeed and care for a newborn-- that is setting families up for failure.

If this issue is important to you, you can use the Moms Rising website to send a message to the Presidential candidates.


KaritaG said...

ALSO, something people forget about the FMLA is that it only applies to larger employers. This doesn't seem like a big deal until you think about the fact that the majority of your doctors, accountants, and lawyers don't work for a big corporation - they work in small- to medium-sized partnerships or firms. Which means in my line of work, I have two choices - a) stick with smaller firms where I only have to bill 1600 hours per year, and that will work with me on flexible scheduling but probably will only allow me a few weeks off with a baby (and probably unpaid at that) simply because they can't afford to absorb the cost of training someone to do my job for such a short amount of time, or b) go to a bigger firm where I will get a great maternity policy (at least on paper - probably not in "attitude!") but have to bill 2000+ hours a year, leaving me no time to spend with the kid once I have it. It's a lose-lose situation, and law firms have been debating it for years. Hell, I'd be happy if the FMLA were made to be applicable to ALL employers with more than two/three employees! One of my coworkers recently got TWO paid weeks off with her baby. Two weeks is barely long enough to get your c-section healed up!

Maria said...

Thank you Kara! I forgot about that portion of the legislation and its relevance to maternity leave.

katandkarl said...

my company is large enough that they comply with FMLA laws but i am a victim of THE UNPAID MATERNITY LEAVE. not ONE day is paid. i will take my entire vacation (paid days) and my short term disability policy will cover 6 weeks only. (at 60% pay). because having a baby is a disability, right?

David said...

Thanks for the link, and of course for encouraging people to speak up about this issue!

David said...

Oops! That last comment should have come from "tanya@motherwearblog," not my husband's account! :)

Jax said...

I heard this once before and was SHOCKED! My old law firm used to provide 6 weeks of paid leave...but they'd expect you to return guns blazin after that.. like it was some super reward or something. Plus, they didnt give you a bonus for that quarter if you'd had a kid and taken off work. It was pretty lame. I never knew anyone to take longer than 6 weeks.. They were too scared about losing their jobs.. Sad.

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