By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online
The United States of America and Papua New Guinea have, for far too long, been the only countries in the world that do not assist new parents with cash benefits, in the form of maternity leave payments.
However, President Obama’s push for paid maternity leave has finally seen fruition; after having been knocked back so many times. Federal employers have known been directed by the president to offer employees “fully paid maternity leave”.
That leaves Papua New Guinea standing, as the only country that does not help parents, or specifically working mothers, by providing assistance to them in having paid maternity leave.
President Obama once referred to “fully paid maternity leave”, in 2014, as a “basic right”; he has long been pushing for Americans to be entitled to maternity leave payments. But over the years, it has always been quashed in Congress or various committees.
Their reasons being: ‘cost-to-business’, ‘unseen costs’ such as those “born by families” and public assistance programs, among others. They maintain that these ‘costs’ would “take a greater toll” on the finances of the U.S.
But Obama’s win over the odds has removed the burden off from thousands, if not millions, of Federal employees and their families, and though it may be seen as a tiny leap forward, as compared to other countries, it is being described as a “rather tentative step”. It is hoped that the benefit will soon be extended to other families, and not just Federal employees.
USA has long been criticised for being negligent and “stingy” for not providing full maternity leave payments to new parents. “The U.S guarantees that a new parent’s job will be held for a maximum of twelve weeks if the person met certain criteria, such as working for a company large enough to be held accountable under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and if the person had worked for the minimum number of hours required by FMLA in the previous year. That guaranteed maternity leave, however, is not paid.”
Only three states (California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) have state level requirements for paid maternity leave, and only about sixteen percent of employers voluntarily offer paid leave.