U.S. Lags Behind the Rest of the World in Child Care and Maternity Leave

By: Marie Donlon

Despite evidence that suggests investments in child care and maternity leave lend to a more productive, healthy and creative workforce, the United States continues to trail other countries in terms of offering paid maternity leave and affordable child care.

Considering that the U.S. is among only a handful of other countries that don’t mandate paid maternity leave partially explains why the U.S. is no longer a leader when it comes to the number of women participating in the workforce — no doubt affected by factors such as being able to stay in the workforce and thus earn higher wages over time.

Although the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act mandates 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for some American workers, most people cannot afford to miss 12 weeks of work without a paycheck.

Meanwhile, countries like Denmark offer mothers  18 weeks of paid maternity leave while fathers are offered two weeks of paid leave, and that is in addition to 32 weeks of parental leave to be used by either parent, granting  them both the resources and time to care for their children — without penalty.

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