Where’s Our Parental Leave?

In the news, two of Norway’s prime minister’s male cabinet members are on paternity leave. The Reuters article then goes on to let us know that in Norway both parents get an automatic two weeks off after a birth. Then they are offered a combined 46 weeks of fully paid leave or 56 weeks at 80 percent of their normal pay.

Ten weeks are reserved for the father and are lost if he remains on the job (So, the other 36 of 46 weeks are for the mother. These can be taken concurrently with the father’s leave, or divided up between the 2 of them). Many fathers take more for themselves as their wives head back to work.

Later this year the maximum leave in Norway will expand to 57 weeks, with 12 weeks to the father, and the government intends to expand the father quota to 14 weeks later.

What do U.S. parents get? According to the Wikipedia article on parental leave, we provide no paid leave at all for mothers or fathers, but parents can have 12 weeks of unpaid leave. “The United States is the only Western country that does not mandate paid parental leave, although the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 mandates unpaid parental leave for the majority of American workers.” This also puts us behind almost all of the countries in the world, including Trinidad and Tobago where moms get 13 weeks paid leave. In Guatemala, the mother gets 84 paid days leave and the dad gets two paid days off for the birth of his child.

So here I am screaming, “Why should we be so far behind in this“? We are better off economically than Guatemala and they can afford it. Therefore, we should be able to!

We need to step it up, for mothers, fathers and baby’s sakes!