Tuesday, July 31, 2007

the maternity leave war

9 comments
 
Ask any working mom. Maternity leave is a huge point of contention. So why are Ohio parents being left behind?

Nothing prepared me for the birth of my daughter.

Books warned me that my household dynamics would change drastically. But I wasn't prepared for what the first few weeks of being a "family" meant.

And physically, I was exhausted. My daughter slept through the night pretty well for a newborn. But that meant that she was awake and ready to eat - a lot - during the day. And no one told me that my washing machine would be on 24/7. Or that my house wouldn't miraculously clean itself. I was running on empty.

I was lucky. My job offered me six weeks of paid maternity leave. But those two months went by all too quickly. My baby and I were just getting used to each other. Sure, I could take more time off, but it would be without pay. And my husband and I just couldn't swing it.

Then my cousin in Canada told me she had 14 months of paid maternity leave.

What? Over a year? Paid?

How can the U.S. be lagging behind our neighbors so much?

In Washington state, they are recommending five weeks of paid leave for parents of newborns or adopted children.

California already offers six weeks of paid leave.

An Ohio agency is trying to guarantee that virtually every working woman would have 12 weeks off. Federal law currently grants the same amount of leave but the new state law would apply to employers with four or more employees. The federal government covers larger businesses.

But still, the proposal does not require new parents to be paid for their time off.

While I applaud the efforts to extend the length of maternity leave, I have to wonder why the issue of pay would not accompany the new proposal.

It can be your first child or your fifth. Adjustment time is needed for every mom. How can we as mothers focus on our family, if we have dollar signs blocking our view.

I'm all for providing paid leave for parents. Studies have shown that a company that takes care of its working parents have more productive employees.

Ohio currently mandates testing of all newborns for several disorders. So isn't it time our state take care of its parents too?

[Cross posted on NorthCoastMoms.com]

9 comments :

  1. I totally agree with you there. My sister just had to go back to work after a three week maternity leave. She got a total of three weeks, including pregnancy leave, so she ended up working right up to the day she had the baby, so she'd be able to spend the whole 3 weeks with the baby. But now its over and she has to leave Hayden with a sitter. She cried the night before she went back to work.Its so sad because three weeks is just so tiny, and parents should at least have the OPTION of staying home longer if they want to... but for people like my sister who can't afford to take unpaid time off, finding childcare for the newborn is the only choice! :(

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  2. Luckily, we're in California for our next one to be born. I wish a lot of our systems could be like Canada's. But, we're surrounded by a lot of greedy, uncaring people...

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  3. I took a year off with each of my kids. Thanks to the government I had 56% of my salary and my job was protected for the full year (I worked for the Canadian office of an American organization and was amazed at how many of my US co-workers assumed that if I was taking that kind of time, then I wasn't coming back!).
    Things had improved greatly by the time my youngest was born in 2003. Not only did the government pay insurance for the full year but my employer topped me up to very nearly my full salary. I am very grateful for the year that I had with each of my kids.

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  4. Amen! I would love nothing more than to see one year of paid maternity leave (not to mention much-improved childcare benefits) offered to all American workers. Families are the backbone of this nation, and without them, our economy would stop functioning. Let's help them out--starting with Ohio (where I happen to live!)

    Susan at Working Moms Against Guilt

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  5. I feel like it would be a win-win situation if the United States would follow in Canada's footsteps. Just look at Laurie's story. How I wish I could have had a year off to show Amara the world, to witness many of her milestones, and to simply enjoy her!

    I have said it before. I complain about working -- but it's not because I don't love what I do. I enjoy my work. But I hate being away from Amara so much. It's a lot easier...but I think if I had even the opportunity to spend true quality time with her in the first few months, I may feel differently now.

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  6. I had the opportunity to take a year off with Maya but choose to go back to work after 8 months. But that was my choice, I love the idea of taking this year to be with Wyatt. And with the thought to paying for daycare for 3 children, I may take more time than that.

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  7. Isn't that crazy????
    The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world with such a poor maternity leave system. And you would think that it would be able to help out more since it's probably the MOST advanced country.
    Here in Canada we get AT LEAST 52 weeks off and 55% of our wages. AND if the mother soesn't want to take all that time, the father an also take the rest of the leave - it's called Parental Leave.
    I find it incomprehensible that a great and poweful nation like the United States cannot seem to offer the key to their future a better/easier transition.

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  8. P.S. Did you know that Slovenia, Cuba, Uzbekistan, and South Korea actually give FULL pay AND 52 weeks of???

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  9. One question. In the Canadian system, does the employer pay the 52 weeks of time off, or does the government? Either way, it seems as if someone else [either the employer or the public] is being asked to fund your decision to have a child. I agree that children are our future, and wish that more attention and funding was available for making sure that all children get whatever they need to achieve their full potential. But I also think that the decision to have a child is a matter of choice: your choice: and that I shouldn't be asked to pay for your choice. Does that make me greedy or uncaring? I don't think so. I just think that you shouldn't ask me to help pay for your baby. Unless you're willing to help me with some of my expenses as well?
    Might be I'm just a little jaded from seeing the number of people who don't plan at all for their children; in some cases no marriage, many cases no insurance , no stable home for the child. I hear so much talk about the right to have children, what about the responsibility to prepare and take care of that child yourself or with just the help of your immediate family?

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