How is it possible that in the western, civilized world, the United States as leader of all that is modern and progressive categorizes pregnancy and maternity responsibilities as effectively – a disability?
Some pregnant women sometimes only get paid if they chose to pay into optional short term disability insurance. Others do get a short stay home from their jobs at half or even full pay, topping out at maximum 12 weeks, though these 12 weeks of unpaid leave that guarantee job security upon a woman’s return to the workforce are only available to those who have worked at least 12 consecutive months or 1,250 hours, within that time. These women also have to work within 75 miles of their home for a company with 50 or more employees. This excludes about 40% of the workforce, according to a 2012 survey by the Department of Labor. The fact is – it’s all up to the business, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics only 11% of workers get paid family leave.
American mothers-to-be have to battle their human resources departments and the state in which they live for short-term disability. This pays a percentage of the woman’s salary for a period of time that varies by state and job. In some states it is a mandated part of a worker’s benefits package; in others, workers must sign up to pay into the system to be able to use it later. Many women use these benefits for maternity leave. Because apparently, having a child is legally considered a disability.
This leaves most pregnant women compiling their sick days and vacation days together in a desperate attempt to get some decent time off to deal with a newborn baby. Others use unpaid Family Medical Leave Act time if they’re eligible.
WE ARE BIRTHING AND RAISING THE NEXT GENERATION OF CITIZENS HERE, and in today’s US economy, single-income households are rare. We demand a decent federal policy for maternity leave in the United States that channels our hard-earned tax dollars into a program that supports the businesses we work for - to support us. And to support our families. That means not leaving our newborn babies before they are at least 12 months old, getting a significant portion of salary for that time, and guaranteeing our jobs when we return. Let’s join the civilized world, shall we?