Pres. Obama Pushes For Paid Maternity Leave During Summit

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President Obama encourages companies to offer paid maternity leave.


Reported by April V. Taylor

The United States is the only industrialized country that does not have a legal provision for paid maternity leave. President Obama recently spoke about this issue during a White House Summit on Working Families. He encouraged employers to implement policies that were more family-friendly by stating, “Only three countries in the world report that they don’t offer paid maternity leave – three – and the United States is one of them.  It’s time to change that.  A few states have acted on their own to give workers paid family leave, but this should be available to everyone, because all Americans should be able to afford to care for a family member in need.”  The only current federal law regarding family leave is the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act which requires employers to provide unpaid leave to workers for medical and family reasons.

California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are the three states that have a system in place to provide paid leave. Obama has not endorsed any specific legislation that would create a paid leave system funded by a payroll tax, and some people wonder if this is due in part to his 2008 presidential campaign promise not to raise taxes on families who earn less than $250,000 a year.

Obama also touched on the need for child care and flexible work schedules. In addition, he urged Congress to pass legislation that would require employers to accommodate pregnant employees so that they can continue working.  In response to a study that shows that nearly half of all parents have turned down a job for the sake of family interests, Obama stated, “When…many talented, hard-working people are forced to choose between work and family, something’s wrong.  Other countries are making it easier for people to have both.  We should too, if we want American businesses to compete and win in the global economy.”