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Obama Wants Paid Maternity Leave for Working Families

Topics: Current Events

At the White House Summit on Working Families last month, President Barack Obama said that working families in this country should have paid maternity leave.

(Photo Credit: jurvetson/Flickr)

“Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth — now that’s a pretty low bar,” Obama said. “That, we should be able to take care of.”

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The United States of America is one of only three countries worldwide that does not offer paid maternity leave. It is the only developed country not to do so.

President Obama has already instituted six weeks of paid maternity leave for his White House staff members when they have a child, get sick or injured, or need to care for an ailing family member. Federal law ensures 12 weeks of unpaid leave for American employees who work for companies with 50 or more people. The president also complimented California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island for implementing state laws guaranteeing paid maternity leave.

Conservative Response

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is a potential 2016 presidential candidate. He is quoted in the Associated Press as responding to the President’s call for paid maternity leave, “Telling federal agencies to do what they’re already supposed to do and endorsing partisan legislation that will never pass is not the sort of bold, innovative leadership we need.”

However, the definition of “what they are supposed to do” is whatever the law tells them they are supposed to do. Currently, the federal law requires larger employers (50 or more employees) to guarantee 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. The President wants workers to have a guarantee of paid, not unpaid maternity leave.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has introduced legislation that would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave through a fund in the Social Security Administration, paid for by contributions from employees and employers of 0.2 percent of wages. That is two pennies for every $10.

Currently, families must either be able to save up 12 weeks worth of expenses or not stay home to bond with, nurse, and care for their new family member. It is time for business owners in American to join the rest of the developed world by implementing humane, paid maternity leave.

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