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Caroline Dobuzinskis's picture

This Mother’s Day, the United States is still behind all other high-income industrialized nations when it comes to providing paid leave to parents. And, according to a new analysis released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), employers are not filling the gap—despite many providing paid leave benefits beyond legal requirements.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and provides eligible employees with up to 12-weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for reasons that include to care or bond with a new child. The United States is one of only four countries in the world that does not provide paid maternity leave to workers.

Only slightly more than a third of all workers in the United States work in workplaces with paid maternity leave, according to the Family and Medical Leave in 2012 Survey. Even among the top 100 most family-friendly companies, as selected by Working Mother magazine, close to one in five only provide one to two weeks paid maternity leave, or none at all.

In good news, since 2006, paid leave for birth fathers and adoptive parents has become more common among Working Mother’s top 100 family-friendly companies. There has been a marked increase in the number of top 100 companies that are providing paid leave to adoptive parents, from 54 percent in 2006 to 80 percent in 2012.

“The evidence is clear: paid parental leave is good for children, for mothers, and for fathers,” said Barbara Gault, Ph.D., Vice President and Executive Director at IWPR. “The absence of paid parental leave is particularly pernicious for low-waged families, hurting both the current and next generation.”

“The evidence presented in the briefing paper shows that paid leave insurance is affordable and workable,” said Ariane Hegewisch, Study Director at IWPR. “All we are asking for this Mother’s Day is evidence-based policymaking for balancing work and family needs.”


The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.


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