Call to Action – Maternity Leave
Legally mandated paid leave provides economic reimbursement when an employee is temporarily away from work after having a baby. Companies can implement benefits free-willed or government can legally mandate it. Most workers qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but there is no federal paid leave program or legal mandate that goes along with FMLA to offset the lack of pay.
Some government officials believe the existing state of affairs is lacking and have driven for additional government action. During the Democratic presidential debates on November 20th, 2019 the candidates were asked about mandated paid leave. The candidates all gave different responses but overall agreed that something needs to be done. It is being talked about; we just need to give it that extra push to make it happen. Many states have introduced it into legislation; the trick is getting it voted into law. In recent years it has gotten closer and closer and then shot down by a minute margin.
One of the candidates is proposing The Family Act. Which would guarantee new moms 12 weeks of paid leave to care for the new baby and heal. This bill has been backed by every single Democratic senator. Hillary Clinton backed it; Bernie Sanders is currently backing it. Barak Obama endorsed a bill that was similar but not exactly this one. Kamala Harris took this problem and went a bit further with it. In her plan new moms would get six months of paid leave after having a baby to adjust and care for their new baby.
Admitting there is a problem is just one of many steps. The need for Legally mandated Paid leave for new moms in the U.S. is very real. The next thing new moms need is the execution of the new policies that are implemented. Assembling the legislative support required for such a change is very hard. Aimee Hosler from Busted Cubicle states “As with other major movements, supportive parental workplace rights will likely begin with concerned advocates willing to give voice to the issue by attending town hall meetings; preparing informative events and literature; writing letters and editorials; sending emails to legislators; and more”.
Here are a few resources worth looking into PLUS is an advocacy group working to secure family leave and A Better Balance is a family advocacy group that strives to promote family stability without sacrificing economic security. Last but probably the most important resource we have is The United States Government: Learn how to identify and contact your elected officials. Write them, call them, attend a rally, and make your voice heard!
Legally mandated paid leave is not just a policy that will help overwhelmed mothers according to the Senate’s Joint Economic Committee. Legally mandated pay is linked with fewer new moms having to rely on government assistance. It also shows greater health benefits for babies and parents. Less overwhelmed moms also tend to be much more efficient when they return to work.
With the 2020 elections fast approaching, we need to do our due diligence and contact our state representatives. We as a nation need to hold them accountable for the lack of support to mothers. We as a nation need to take action into our own hands, we will no longer let them brush this off. Women who become mothers should not be punished for their choices. We as a nation should demand mandated paid leave through improved parental leave laws in order to create a nation where every woman can succeed. Working moms need more support from our country to be able to make better choices for their families and themselves.