Apart from Australia, the U.S. is the sole developed country that makes no provision for paid maternity leave, with regard to moms-to-be, nationwide. Based on a report of 168 countries, undertaken by Harvard University, 163 countries had certain provisions for paid maternity leave. Therefore, the U.S. is in the same league as New Guinea, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Papua with regard to making available paid leave for expectant women.
It is simply beyond anyone’s comprehension, as to why such a situation exists, even though professionals and renowned professors declare that the differing objectives of American and European feminist movement could possibly have had a say in the absence of this benefit – paid maternity leave with reference to expectant women in America.
Early women rights activists in Europe laid stress on meting out special privileges for moms, also highlighting maternity leave. On the other hand, in America, the early women rights activists did not attach much importance to motherhood, and instead stressed equal rights for the female sex without any special privileges extended.
In the U.S., there have been concerted efforts to
initiate the process of providing for paid maternity leave. The Clinton administration desired that states should utilize the unemployment fund to make available paid maternity leave. However, resistance from various business interests caused the Bush administrations to summarily reject this scheme. Business groups contended that it would require them to raise their levels of contributions towards the state unemployment funds.
California, in the year 2004, launched a family leave plan (indicating either maternity or paternity leave) which provides about fifty percent pay for a period of six weeks. A fund created by the employees and not the employers, helped finance this plan.
At present, there are 5 states – Hawaii, California, New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey – which have initiated temporary disability programs whereby employers are required to pay benefits in case the pregnancy is referred to by a doctor as a disability.
Nearly all the states permit a woman to avail of unpaid maternity leave. A woman can be eligible for unpaid leave in case:
1. She is employed by the federal government, the state, or the local government, or by any business, which has a workforce of fifty or more operating inside seventy-five miles of her place of work.
2. She has been working with her present employer for a minimum of twelve months and has put in a minimum of 1,250 hours in the past year (which is an average of twenty-five hours every week for approximately fifty weeks).
You may not be able to retain your job in the company in case you fall into the top salaried ten percent of pay earners in the company and if it is proved by your employer that your nonattendance would produce considerable financial damage to the organization.
You can utilize you unpaid maternity leave in any which way you desire during the course of your pregnancy and right up to one year following the birth of your child. This denotes that you can use your leave at one go or distribute it over your baby’s initial year by cutting down on your regular daily or weekly work load, in case your employer gives his consent.
Federal procedures mandate that you apply for leave a good thirty days before you avail of it. However, it would be best if you kept your employer apprised of the fact that you are pregnant well in advance.
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