Sometimes I get tired of hearing how far America lags behind other countries in so many areas – kids’ math scores, life expectancy, impossibility of finding a good loaf of bread, to name a few. When it comes to paid family leave for new parents , America’s lack of options for workers is appalling and we need to be talking about it. Loudly. That’s why I’ve asked my Oregon state legislators to support the effort to pass Paid Family Leave.
My beautiful state of Oregon is far ahead of some states. We were one of the first states to grant workers up to 12 weeks unpaid time off with their job guaranteed at the end of that time. Now that law is federal, but even with the option of 12 weeks off, for many families going that long without a paycheck is a hardship they can’t withstand, so moms still return within weeks or even days. Numerous studies have shown that, when moms return too soon to work, breastfeeding rates plummet which dramatically increases childhood illnesses. In turn, in the long run moms end up missing many more days from work later on to care for sick kids.
As a fairly new mom myself, I know how important those first few months are to recover from delivery, bond with the new baby and figure out how to do this motherhood thing. I can’t imagine if I’d had to return to work in those early, exhausting, sleep-deprived days. Because I couldn’t stand the thought of returning to a 40+ hour work week within just three months of having a baby, I quit my job altogether and started my own business so I could be my own boss.
The United States keeps pretty deplorable company when it comes to not offering paid family leave. 168 countries across the globe, most much poorer economically than the US, offer some sort of paid leave for women after childbirth. The US is the only developed nation not to offer this. Other nations that don’t offer paid leave include Liberia, Swaziland and Papau New Guinea. Shocking, I know. Every European nation and most Asian, Latin American and African nations offer it. Maybe we should take a hint and recognize the incredible societal benefit (including lower health costs) of giving families the opportunity to be families when they need to be and to be workers when they need to be, without the risk of losing their income.
Join me in speaking out for Paid Family Leave and learn more at Time To Care For Oregon Families.