Analysis: U.S. Employers Not Close in Filling Paid Maternity Leave Gap

Washington — May 9

The United States is still behind all other high-income industrialized nations when it comes to providing paid leave to parents. And, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), employers are not filling the gap, despite many providing paid leave benefits beyond legal requirements.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. The law provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for reasons that include to care or bond with a new child. The U.S. is one of only four countries in the world that does not provide paid maternity leave to workers.

Only slightly more than a third of all workers in the U.S. work in workplaces with paid maternity leave, according to a Family and Medical Leave 2012 Survey. Even among the top 100 most family-friendly companies, as selected by Working Mother magazine, close to one in five only provide one to two weeks of paid maternity leave or none at all.

The good news: Since 2006, paid leave for birth fathers and adoptive parents has become more common among Working Mother’s top 100 family-friendly companies. There has been a marked increase in the number of top 100 companies that are providing paid leave to adoptive parents — from 54 percent in 2006 to 80 percent in 2012.

IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts research that aims to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue and strengthen communities.

Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research