Maternity leave - what's reasonable?

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MissyJ's picture
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Maternity leave - what's reasonable?

U.S. maternity leave (or lack thereof) is often cited as failing women and children. Some opponents declare costs are too prohibitive to match European standards. Others proclaim that offering extensive maternity leave could negatively impact women's career paths at a time when women are continuing to battle pay equality and glass ceilings.

What would you describe as reasonable maternity leave? What would the pros/cons be to your (or others') proposals?

Spacers's picture
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I think my state has it about right. You can get up to six weeks weeks off after a vaginal birth and eight weeks for a surgical birth to recover physically from giving birth. This is covered by State Disability Insurance. After that, you can get up to six weeks of bonding and/or caretaking time with Paid Family Leave, which is part of the SDI program. SDI is tax-free income; PFL is taxed by the federal government but not by the state. Both are based on how much you earned in the four quarters prior to the quarter in which you were disabled by your pregnancy. Weekly payments range from $51 to $1075 per week, with the annual earnings required ranging from $6000 at the low end to about $100,000 to qualify for the full amount.

One thing to note is that this is income protection, not job protection, although many people's jobs are protected by various state & federal laws because their company has 50 or more employees. That's fine with me. It seems that most small employers are willing to work with a good employee to figure out how to cover her maternity leave. For most women even at smaller employers, the issue isn't whether they've have a job to come back to, but whether they can afford to take the time off at all. My state makes sure they can.

KimPossible's picture
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I agree that paid maternity leave is the major fail. 5 kids, always had a full time job, was never able to take the full 12 weeks that FMLA gives me because i couldn't afford it, not with a single one of them. The most I ever took was 10.