According to the U.S. Labor Department, only 12% of workers get paid time off to care for their babies or a sick parent. There are currently only three states that have a paid family leave insurance program, but a bill was recently introduced to to Congress that would create a similar model on a national level. If passed, it would make more women eligible for a benefit usually offered by larger companies such as Bank of America Corp. or Goldman Sachs Group Inc., who have adopted more generous policies, such as 16 weeks paid maternity leave, in order to retain women workers.
According to the United Nation’s International Labor Organization, Papua New Guinea and the U.S. are the only two nation’s that don’t provide or require a paid maternity leave. Most women in the U.S. have to make the choice between taking an unpaid leave, combining work and family duties or quitting their jobs. At a time when female participation in the U.S. labor force is at a 20 year low, a work safety net could encourage mothers to return to their jobs post-birth.
The legislation introduced by two democratic representatives aims to set up an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration. It would be financed by a new payroll contribution from employees and employers of 0.2 percent of wages.
The bill would allow workers to take a partial paid leave of up to 12 weeks for birth or adoption of a child, their own serious health issues or that of a child, spouse or domestic partner.
The bill faces some opposition, mostly because it would remove the flexibility businesses have in the type of leave they offer, however the pros far outweigh the cons. The lack of paid maternity is one of the main reasons the U.S. is falling behind other advanced countries in the share of women in the workforce, landing in 18th place among 22 countries who are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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|Kenneth G. Marks has been practicing personal injury law since he was admitted to the California Bar in 1981. www.KmarksLaw.com|