Fact of the Week: Unlike Other Wealthy Nations, U.S. Does Not Guarantee Paid Leave


June 23, 2014

The United States remains the only high-income country that does not guarantee paid family and medical leave. As President Obama said in his June 21 Weekly Address, “Only three countries in the world report that they don’t offer paid maternity leave. Three. And the United States is one of them.”
Today, the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Labor, and the Center for American Progress are hosting a Summit on Working Families to discuss policies that can improve the lives of working families and our economy. CHN’s Deborah Weinstein will be attending the event (see her post about it), which will bring together business and labor leaders, policymakers, advocates and economists. You can join in the action by watching the live stream of event, following the Facebook Q&A’s, and tweeting your questions and ideas to #FamiliesSucceed.

One proposal that’s sure to be talked about at the summit is the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 3712/S. 1810), introduced in Congress last year. The FAMILY Act would create a national family and medical leave insurance program funded by employee and employer contributions. If enacted, the FAMILY Act would give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for themselves or a family member in the event of an illness, or for the birth or adoption of a child. According to AAUW’s recent action alert on the FAMILY Act, contributions would amount to less than $1.50 per week for the average worker, or two cents for every $10 of an employee’s salary.

When workers have the time off they need to care for themselves and their families, and when they can afford to take that time, we’re all better off. Most of the rest of the world – including every other high-income nation – has already realized this. It’s time the U.S. did, too.

Early Childhood Education
family and medical leave
Labor and Employment
paid leave
White House Summit on Working Families