Why San Francisco Just Changed How the US Thinks About Paid Maternity Leave
To put it lightly, the United States’ maternity leave policy is less than ideal ATM. We’re one of two nations in the WORLD that doesn’t offer paid leave and the only developed nation not to offer it. Considering the increasing number of working moms in the workforce today, this issue has become a pivotal talking point of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns and seems to finally have bubbled up to the point where change is being demanded. Yesterday was a pivotal moment for this movement, as San Francisco unanimously passed a law that now requires employers to offer fully paid maternity leave to workers.
The law passed entitles businesses to pay both mothers and fathers their full wage during a six-week leave period starting in 2017. It should be noted that six weeks is still a relatively short amount of time compared to what other countries offer (52 weeks is standard in the UK, 16 weeks in France), but hey, you have to start somewhere, right?
California is one of only one of a few US states that offer some form of a paid family leave program at all. New Jersey and Rhode Island have taken progressive steps forward in this regard and New York just recently introduced an impressive new policy that requires up to three months of partially paid time off for new parents. The Family and Medical Leave Act only legally requires employers across the country to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave to workers with a new child. The length or even possibility of parental leave still remains up to individual employers.
While this is great news for new parents, there are some who think this could be a detrimental new expense for small businesses in the city. To that Scott Wiener, (the San Francisco supervisor who sponsored the proposal) tells the Guardian, “Every time San Francisco adopts a local pro-worker ordinance, we’re told that it’s going to be the end of the world for businesses. What ends up happening is the state and sometimes even the federal government follows our lead … I’m confident other cities and states will take notice.”
What is the current maternity policy like where you are? Share with us on Twitter @britandco.
(Photos via Getty)