Problems With Ivanka Trump’s Maternity Leave Proposal

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Ivanka Trump advocated for paid leave for birth mothers only during the campaign.

Currently, the United States is the only developed country that does not offer some form of paid parental leave. In fact, fewer than five countries in the entire world fail to offer it. Others include Swaziland, Lesotho, and Papua New Guinea. Under the current federal law known as Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), American men and women are guaranteed 12 weeks of job protection and unpaid time off for qualifying medical and family reasons. Having a child is one of those. But if you can’t afford to take 12 weeks off without compensation, the protection is worthless to you. A handful of US states provide some pregnancy-related disability time off for women after birth, and California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island offer an additional four to six weeks of partially paid time off to parents for bonding. Some businesses voluntarily offer paid leave, but according to a recent report, only 13 percent of private sector employees overall and six percent of low-wage workers have access to such benefits.

President Bill Clinton signed FMLA into law in 1993. During that time, even offering unpaid job protection was contentious, and many in the business community claimed it would be detrimental to the economy. But statistics show that FMLA has actually helped businesses by increasing employee retention, productivity, and morale.

Despite the positive impact, FMLA also has serious flaws. First of all, you have to work at the same company for 12 months to qualify, and it only applies to companies that have 50 or more employees. Because of that, one count found that only 54 percent of the US workforce was eligible for FMLA leave. And of course, the time off is unpaid, putting it out of reach for many who cannot afford it.