With my love of John Oliver made well-known, his recent piece on maternity leave which he chose to air on Mother’s Day made me love him even more.
I was sickened to learn about maternity leave in the States when my wife became pregnant. Legally, a company doesn’t have to give you a single paid day off after you force a human being out of your vagina. The only law currently protecting mothers is the FMLA act which affords individuals up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for certain medical events (including birth) during which time your job is protected assuming you and your company meet all of the prerequisite conditions.
The fact that the US doesn’t mandate any paid time off puts them joint last in the world, alongside Papua New Guinea. Every other country in the world requires at least some paid time off after creating a new life: a fact which should sicken most Americans. How can the US give less of a shit about new babies and the people that keep them alive than Iran/North Korea/Mongolia/Zimbabwe/etc.?
America’s decision to proactively block mothers (and fathers) from spending time with their new family, not to mention enabling them to breastfeed for the minimum recommended 6 months just goes to show how capitalism rules above all else in the “land of the free”.
This contrasts starkly with most of the developed world where 6-12 months paid time off is standard procedure and where fathers can also share in this time off. It’s not a burden on employers or taxpayers: it’s an investment in families which ultimately benefits society. The American system is conversely incredibly shortsighted, focusing only on the bottom line.
John Oliver does a great job of explaining how sad this practice is. This is another blot on America’s record that they should seek to improve.