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Maternity leave

There are five countries in the world (out of 173 surveyed, though there are 192 UN member states so some must have fallen through the cracks) which do not provide, or require employers to provide, any form of paid maternity leave.

Four of them are Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea.

Can you guess what the fifth is?

The United States of America.

(Hat-tip to Steven Hill on the always excellent open_democracy.)


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 28th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
No surprise there. I suspect it's a state jurisdiction not a federal one.
Jan. 28th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
U! S! A!
Jan. 28th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
Have you not always known that? I thought it was common knowledge, though it could be one of those things that Canadians are more likely to know than Europeans.
Jan. 28th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
I think I knew about the USA being one of few countries that did not require, provide, or otherwise mandate maternity leave; I'd forgotten or didn't know quite *how* few.
Jan. 28th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
Mothers at *work*. What sort of commie cheese-eating surrender leftie idea is THAT.
Jan. 28th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
I just got off my maternity a.k.a. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave! Just FYI for non-USA readers or USA readers who have never used FMLA:
* it is a federal law
* it can be used for more than maternity leave (my mother has used some to take care of my sick grandmother for instance)
* it only guarantees that your company will hold your position or an equivalent for 12 weeks (so if your company is unethical and really wants to get rid of you they'll give you an awful "equivalent" position)
* FMLA only applies to companies that have more than 50 employees (and I think some gov't agencies are exempt)
* you need to have worked at a company for at least a year before FMLA leave is available to you

I'm "lucky" because I work for a progressive company that treats the first 6 weeks as paid medical leave and I was allowed to pay for the next 6 with my paid time off. And the company provides a private space to pump breastmilk - they aren't required to legally in the state where I live.
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(no subject) - hells_librarian - Jan. 28th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - hells_librarian - Jan. 28th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - webcowgirl - Jan. 28th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 28th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
Neither does Australia, oddly enough. It's a major campaign issue for feminists here.
Jan. 28th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
I think people count the Australian "baby bonus" when they cite this piece of trivia - which doesn't make sense to me. We get a yearly child tax credit in the USA, but it's not comparable to paid maternity leave in my mind.
(no subject) - mireille21 - Jan. 29th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dalmeny - Feb. 2nd, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 28th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
Well there is Maternity Leave in Japan, but coverage and enforcement is spotty. My wife is getting 1 month either side of the event, but with no salary. She does get to keep her job though - most women in Japan lose their jobs if they're expecting.
Jan. 29th, 2009 01:04 am (UTC)
Although Australia only *just* brought it in recently too. It's a bit sad really.
Jan. 29th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
it's 3 am and I am probably not being too clear but...
I firmly believe that we will not be able to achieve equality for women in the workplace until we treat men equally too.

If you are an employer looking to hire someone and two people show up,one man and one woman, both in their mid to late twenties, you can guess that the woman is likely to have a few children within the next few years so that when you add up her expected maternity leave you realise the company would be better off hiring the man.

Once she has children our current society sees them as her problem and should they need to go to hospital or the doctors/dentist whatever it will be expected that the mother will take the time out rather than the father (and this is changing and is very individual I know)

If men had paternity leave worth the name, if fathers were allowed(encouraged) to be as involved in their children's lives as many would like (by society and assumptions) it would not be such a huge difference in cost to an organisation to hire women...

Long maternity leave is a nice idea but everytime it lengthens in comparison to the leave available to the father, women become less attractive hires especially in smaller companies. It might be illegal to discriminate but you have to prove it first.
Jan. 29th, 2009 08:06 am (UTC)
Playing devil's advocate on issues like this can get you strung up, but...
Even if parental leave was fully transferable, you would expect more women than men to use it, because pregnancy and labour can be draining experiences, because women tend to have a closer bond to newborn kids (because of pregnancy), and because a lot of parents would prefer that their kids were breastfed, and that's easier if the mother takes the leave.

(These are all tendencies not absolutes, but they add up)

The idea that dentists and doctors are the mother's job starts here. If they _are_ the mother's job for the first few months, and if the woman is in a lower paid job (because of common or garden sexism and because of the braking effect of maternity leave) then it's 'natural' that she should take the time off.

Also, it's worth bearing in mind that 'women = most important parent' has it's benefits. In divorce hearings, the default ruling is that the mother will get custody of children.

(But yes, leave should be mandated, paid and transferable, childcare should be free/highly subsidised and high quality, working hours should be flexible, ....)
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 29th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)
Bah! My country isn't even No.1 in exploiting its female workforce!
Jan. 29th, 2009 07:40 am (UTC)
That's an easy guess

Although one has to wonder why Myanmar is not in the league
Jan. 29th, 2009 08:16 am (UTC)
Amazingly, the reason Myanmar is not on the list is because women there do get twelve weeks of employer-paid maternity leave (at two-thirds of normal salary), as well as a state-paid maternity cash grant.
Jan. 29th, 2009 10:13 am (UTC)
We discussed this in class yesterday, and I was shocked - I knew it was bad - but that bad?
I love my country.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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