Among industrialized countries, America is held to be unique in its refusal to recognize the need for paid family leave. However, 22 states in America have laws which mandate against the sale of a puppy dog from being sold/separated from its mother before it is eight weeks old, and three other states stipulate a seven-week window. Most people know that puppies also walk, run, play and eat solid food by the time they are four weeks old – whereas a human baby requires much longer time to gain such independence and self-sufficiency.
Women today want to work. They also have a need to fulfill their desire to have babies. It is not just personal choice in either case. Reproduction bears implications which affect the economy of their country and its very future! Imagine if more families were to opt for the so-called DINK (Dual Income – No Kids) lifestyle, how can America achieve the 2.1 per family birth rate it needs to replicate and maintain its population? Is the absence of paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave in America healthy for it as a nation?
While California and New Jersey offer six weeks off per year with some pay, and Rhode Island offers four weeks, New York is offering up to 12 weeks. New York now has a comprehensive paid family leave program, which allows employees partially paid leave to care for a newborn and a sick family member, to be administered through its disability insurance program. New York is determined to make this work, by having the funds in place unlike Washington, which passed a similar paid family leave law in 2007. Washington intended to provide parents with $250 in weekly benefits for up to five weeks in the event of childbirth or adoption, but the state’s legislature never found the funds needed and the program was scuttled. New York funds its program by deducting $1 from the weekly payrolls of employees to fund the program. Employers have no burden to carry though some could nitpick and point to the higher expenses for employers in overtime and training. This solution makes it easier for all other states to implement a similar law as employers will have less objections to accepting this solution.
Once they’ve worked for their employer for six months, employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of partially paid family leave, which will include:
Establishing paid family leave marks a pivotal next step in improving the equality and dignity of women in both the workplace and the home. Currently, 88% of women have no access to paid leave and many others who have access to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act find that they are not eligible for even its unpaid version, under the terms of the act. The current family law leave situation leads to different outcomes, each carrying its own unique set of economic, physical and psychological costs to the mother, the child, the job market, the country and its economy and future.
Today, America’s population is growing thanks to the influx and growth of immigrant populations, while the fertility of native-born American women has been below the replacement level since the 1970s, and declining steadily since. So, is this move coming in time or too late? Or, would you rather say “better late than never?”
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