Guest Writer By Susan Monday, Delaware 1059 and 1150AM and 101-7FM WDEL
How do you feel about the state of Delaware considering paid parental leave for state workers? Delaware Governor John Carney says he supports House Bill 3, but where is the money coming from? (Delaware has struggled to balance its budget in recent years.) According to published reports, the governor has already allocated the funding.
Right now, any eligible employee working for state government or a private-sector employer with 50 or more employees can take twelve weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Employees can bank their sick and vacation time and use all or some of it for a pregnancy or other allowable circumstance. And, in many cases, a pregnant woman can file for short-term disability.
Isn’t it enough that the federal government makes this allowance? It raises the question for me of the role of the employer and the personal responsibility of the employee.
And there are lots of expectant working moms who don’t get a single day off after the birth of a child, and 1 in 4 new moms go back to work 10 days after childbirth, according to Paid Leave for the United States.
Before people decide to have a baby, shouldn’t they be taking into consideration whether or not they can afford it? Why should it be the employer’s financial responsibility to pay for twelve weeks of maternity leave?
Few employers pony up for paid family leave. It’s considered an “elite” benefit with only a handful of states requiring private employers to provide paid family leave. And some companies only provide the benefit for top employees. But there are lots of expectant working moms who don’t get any time off after the birth of a child, and 1 in 4 new moms go back to work 10 days after childbirth, according to the non-profit Paid Leave for the United States.
Some make the argument that other countries, particularly those in Europe, are generous when it comes to paid parental leave. Finland, for example, offers 7 weeks paid leave before the baby is born and another 16 after the birth. Top that off with 8 weeks of paid leave for the father.
Should we Americans be embarrassed that out of the world’s 196 countries, the United States is one of only four where the government doesn’t mandate paid parental leave?
Here’s what I’m wondering: Is Delaware so flush with money that it can commit to this elite benefit for many years to come? (Delaware’s Office of the Controller General estimates that it’ll cost the state about $2.5 million a year.)
Aren’t there bigger expenditures that the state is wresting with? For my money, I’d say paying for more correctional officers at the state’s prisons and improving technology there is a much bigger issue than paid parental leave. And that’s just for starters.
For more information on FMLA, check out this link.
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