When people hear that I’m from California, they look at me quizzically and ask why on earth I live in the UK. Believe it or not, I actually like this country. And I love living in London. Weather is not everything. Yes, really. Plus, we are quite lucky in Europe to receive such generous annual leave as well as maternity and paternity leave.
During my first maternity leave, I had 13 months off (with some of that time as annual leave). I had 12 months off during my second maternity leave. I know many people who took a similar time off. I know many people who took closer to six months off. I don’t know anyone who took less than 20 weeks off. But in the USA? They can get up to 12 weeks. Of. Unpaid. Leave. And if you work part-time, or at a small company, you wouldn’t even get that much leave.
Did you know that the USA is the only developed country that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave? It seems all the other developed countries – countries such as Mexico, Australia, Sweden and the UK – class maternity benefits as important. Americans cannot think this is okay. How can it be acceptable not to support women when they have babies? Is it a weakness for women to want to spend more than a month with their newborn child? I read somewhere that some American companies don’t think they should pay for mothers to bond with their babies. Surely supporting mothers supports society.
Americans are often quoting the first lines of The Constitution – ‘We the people’. I cannot imagine that the people, especially the mothers, are happy not to have fully paid maternity leave. I loved both of my periods of maternity leave. I bonded with my babies. I learned to be a mother. This is not to say that I couldn’t have been a good mother if I went back to work at eight weeks. But it means that when I went back to work, I was able to concentrate on my job. I could concentrate on working without worrying constantly about an infant at daycare/nursery.
President Obama is trying to pass a law that would give federal workers 12 weeks of paid family leave. But shouldn’t everyone already have that as a minimum. Can you imagine being a low-paid worker who has to return to work 1-2 weeks after having a baby?
Could you handle having a baby in the USA? Perhaps you have? How long was your maternity leave? I’d love to hear from you.
I’m linking this post to The Prompt linky run by Mum Turned Mom. The topic this week is ‘Family’.