The United States lags behind other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations with respect to paid parental leave. In fact, it is the only OECD nation, and just one of six globally without federal policy guaranteeing it.
Paid family leave is defined as income received from employers, an insurer, or the government while the employee is away from work for an extended period of time for the purpose of recovery from a serious health issue, caring for an ill family member, or bonding with a newborn or newly-adopted child.
The absence of a paid family leave guarantee for American workers creates negative outcomes, both for American workers — especially working women — and the economy at large.
Family Leave Strengthens Families
A 12-week paid parental leave with employment protection saves 850 newborn and post-neonatal lives annually. Mothers who take paid parental leave have newborns who are 10% less likely to be underweight and 6.6% less likely to be delivered prematurely. Mothers who stay at home for the first 12 weeks after giving birth have a higher chance of making sure their newborns receive all of the recommended vaccines within the first 18 months of life.
Women who take paid parental leave are 51% less likely to require postpartum hospitalization themselves and their children are 47% less likely to require hospitalization again. Up to 12 weeks of paid family leave lessens the likelihood that a new mother would develop postpartum depression symptoms.
Following childbirth, new moms are 14% less likely to need a doctor’s appointment for difficulties connected to childbirth, 11% less likely to need an antibiotic prescription, and 50% less likely to need an anti-anxiety medication when fathers take parental leave. Paid family leave would improve the mental health and stress levels of 55% of working women, including 66% of those with children under the age of 6.
It is more common for fathers who take parental leave to dress, bathe, feed, and diaper their kids. Paid family leave, according to more than half of working mothers (56%), would help them meet their familial obligations, and 33% say it would have a favorable impact on their future plans to have children.
Family Leave Secures Our Economy
Paid family leave helps women stay in the workforce. Financial security and economic optimism determine whether workers choose to have children in the first place, and Americans who are expecting a child often plan to leave the workforce if their employer does not have a paid family leave policy in place.
According to studies, paid family and medical leave policies at the state level boost new mothers’ hours worked, incomes, and participation in the labor force. Caregiving responsibilities can pull many women out of the workforce if paid family leave is not provided. One-third of working mothers cut back on their work hours during the pandemic, which caused kids to miss nearly two years of school. During that time, more people (35%) changed their job aspirations entirely (37%), respectively.
Increasing labor force participation, especially among women, would promote economic growth by increasing the availability of paid parental leave. Paid family and medical leave policies at the state level boost new mothers’ hours worked, incomes, and participation in the labor force.
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