We Didn't Need a Study to Tell Us This: U.S. Lags in Paid Parental Leave

Working moms, you’ll no doubt be just stunned to hear this: A new report from an international nonprofit human rights organization says the U.S. is "decades behind other countries" when it comes to paid parental leave.

Shocker, right? Unfortunately, only two states (California and New Jersey) and 10 percent of private sector employees have a lock on paid family leave. According to the Human Rights Watch “Failing Its Families” report, the U.S. -- along with Swaziland and Papua New Guinea -- fall embarrassingly short on family rights by not providing, at the national level, paid time off to mothers to care for their newborns. In fact, in most Western countries, even working dads get paid leave while settling into parenthood.

As of January 2011, roughly 178 countries guarantee paid leave for new moms; more than 50 provide it for dads. The latest addition to that big list: Australia, which enacted its parental leave policy at the start of the new year.

But here’s a glimmer of hope for working parents in the U.S.: The recently proposed Obama administration budget would include $23 million for states wanting to initiate these kind of programs. It's no sweeping, nationwide change, but it would definitely be a step in the right direction.


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