By in Politics

Maternity leave embarrassment

Being from the UK maternity pay has never been a large thing for me to worry about; I'm young and childless now but I also know that if I decide to have children I get the first six weeks maternity on at least 90% of my salary and after that no matter where I work I have to be paid at least £139 a week for the next 33 weeks. And yes, £139 isn't a vast amount, in fact it's significantly lower than what I currently earn, but it's something at least. Essentially for 39 weeks I can be certain of getting paid maternity leave in some form or another. I then have the right to take another 13 weeks although there is no statutory right to be paid and most employers won't pay for that.

But in the UK we get 39 weeks maternity leave. As long as you are an employee and have given your employer the correct notice you are guaranteed maternity leave. No exceptions, no questions asked.

On top of that if you fit a couple more boxes you are guaranteed statutory maternity pay for those 39 weeks. You need to have worked for your employer 26 weeks when you hit 15 weeks before the expected childbirth, you have to provide the correct notice and the proof of pregnancy and you have to be earning an average of at least £111 a week.

In the UK you are even guaranteed your maternity leave AND payment if you miscarriage after 24 weeks or if your child dies in infancy.

This isn't anything special and is taken completely for granted in the UK. These are your rights.

Maternity leave gives a new mother precious time with her newborn child, time to recover, time to bond and time to get used to this new phase of life that has started.

So why haven't America caught up yet? Why is Obama almost certain to fail in trying to push for six weeks mandatory paid leave in the States? Surely you get much more out of your employees if they're happy, healthy and not endlessly worrying about the new child they've had to leave behind in order to go back to work.

Forty per cent of U.S private sector workers aren't even guaranteed paid sick leave let alone maternity leave.

With the U.S expecting women to jeopardise their financial stability just so they can take a few weeks off to care for a newborn child, how can they call themselves a leading country? It should be a huge embarrassment and yet Obama will once again get slated for trying to push something positive and worthwhile through.

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BigDreamer wrote on January 15, 2015, 10:35 AM

I am very lucky, my employer offers paid maternity leave.
Everyone gets the standard 6 weeks off with pay.
I had to leave work 2 weeks before delivery and was still paid. My coworker was forced to go on bed rest and was paid for 12 weeks.

I don't know what we would have done without that pay. A mother should not have to worry about that.
You are right - America needs to catch up!

k2705 wrote on January 15, 2015, 4:15 PM

My 2nd baby is due in the summer and I ckukdnt imagine having to go back to work straight away afterwards. I had 9 months off with my Son and will do the same this time.

lionpaw wrote on January 18, 2015, 2:28 PM

I couldn't agree more. I wish there were more things to help protect jobs for women in the united states. I worked while pregnant with both my first and second children. I had no problems returning to work 6 weeks after the birth of my first. But when I saw the doctor for the mandatory 6 week check up (required by my job to get a dr release to go back to work), my doctor said I needed more time to heal. I wasn't fully healed and had a complicated delivery with my second daughter. The release date my doctor gave me was for 8 weeks after the birth of my child. My job was terminated because they put me on the schedule 1 day before my work release. I had a medical slip to excuse that day. Not to mention, had I gone to work on that scheduled day, they would have sent me home because my dr slip said I could not begin work until the next day.

arthurchappell wrote on January 19, 2015, 5:10 PM

it is a law that should be universal - it will be big businesses stopping themselves having to pay for the leave who bully the US authorities out of such legislation