Letter to the Editor: U.S. needs to reform maternity leave rules

March 4, 2015

Besides a select few, the United States is one of the only countries not to have paid maternity leave.  It is concerning because I feel like 12 weeks is not enough time to spend with my newborn.  Child care is expensive in the United States and a 12-week-old infant, I think, is too young to be in a day care facility.  The United States needs to reform the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

One problem with FMLA is that it does not only cover maternity leave, but other personal leaves.  The FMLA also covers children who are adopted, children put into foster care and covers spouse, parent or the employee’s leave with a severe sickness (Dorman, 2001).  Another problem with the FMLA is that it is outdated.  White (2006) wrote that the United Kingdom gives paid maternity leave.  The longer the women stay with a company, the better benefits they get.  Australia does not give paid maternity leave.  However, they do give one year leave instead of 12 weeks.  New Zealand gives paid 14 weeks of maternity leave (2006).

In conclusion, the United States is behind the ever-evolving world.  Several countries give one-year maternity leave and are willing to pay their employees for it.  These countries are making a statement that family comes first and work comes second.  The United States needs to look around the world and become less focused on the responsibilities of working and more focused on family values.

Sarah Duzell
Social Work Major