The Pathetic State of Maternity Leave in the U.S.
May 30, 2012
Sigh. This infographic has been popping up in friends’ Facebook feeds constantly over the past several days. And while it’s visually lovely (ooh! a rainbow!), the picture it paints ain’t pretty.
Using statistics from NationMaster.com, a reporter at ThinkProgress.org compared how the U.S. stacks up against other countries around the globe when it comes to paid maternity leave benefits. Not that the sorry state of (the lack of) maternity benefits in the U.S. is necessarily news to any of you who have had a baby while employed, but the infographic shows in an instant just how hard new moms in the U.S. have it. For example, women in the U.S. are offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave via the Family and Medical Leave Act (but companies with fewer than 50 paid employees are exempt), making the U.S. one of just THREE countries out of 178 that don’t offer paid maternity leave (and you can forget about paid paternity leave in the U.S., which is offered by more than 50 of the countries included). Pretty crappy when compared to countries like Canada and Norway that offer 50 and 44 weeks of leave, respectively, which can be shared between parents.
To get by in the postpartum weeks and months, many women in the U.S. end up combining short-term disability, sick leave, vacation days, personal days, and unpaid family leave, or whichever combination of those is available to them.
Did you return to your job after having a baby? What kind of maternity leave benefits were you offered?