The argument for paid parental leave in the U.S. – because families deserve better

The argument for paid parental leave in the U.S. – because families deserve better

Did you know it's been 25 years since the U.S. passed the Family and Medical Leave Act?

Yep. And since there's still no guaranteed (paid or unpaid) parental leave here in the U.S., FMLA is what many new parents rely on to bond with new babies. But here's the thing: It's unpaid leave, and there are a number of restrictions (such as the size of the company and how long you've worked there) that make FMLA unavailable and/or unaffordable for millions of American workers.

So happy birthday, FMLA!

Now, GTFO.

Because seriously, families deserve better. And it's not only my opinion that paid parental leave would be beneficial to families – there's actual proof to back this up. That's because the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health has released a new report examining the evidence of these benefits, along with the economic feasibility of paid family and medical leave.

"Having a baby, taking personal sick leave or time off to care for a family member in the United States often comes at an extraordinarily high price," said Dr. Jody Heymann, founding director of WORLD and dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, in a news release.

"Low or nonexistent wage replacement rates make it difficult or impossible for some workers to take time away from their job. For many workers, taking leave is associated with fear of losing employment and the income that is critical to keeping their family afloat."

The report "Paid Family Medical Leave: Healthier U.S. Families Within Our Reach, is based on a review of more than 5,500 studies about paid family and medical leave in high-income countries. Here is a glimpse at a few key findings:

1. Longer paid leaves are associated with lower infant and child mortality.

2. Paid leave supports moms' opportunities to breastfeed, parents’ ability to take children for vaccinations and well-baby visits, and parent-infant bonding.

3. Making at least six months of paid parental leave available to both parents is economically feasible, evidence strongly supports.

4. When up to six months of paid parental leave is available, women’s labor force participation increases and wage inequalities are reduced.

The bottom line: Paid parental leave benefits families and is economically feasible. And yet the U.S. remains the only industrialized nation that doesn't mandate paid parental leave. So tell me, what are we waiting for?

Images by iStock

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: Why Paid Family Leave Is A HUGE Problem For America (December 2021).

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