Why maternity leave isn’t actually valued

There is verifiable proof that paid leave after having a child relieves stress and is very beneficial for those having children. Photo by NAR Studio on shutterstock.com

The United States, despite its success, regularly demonstrates how archaic much of it is. 

One of America’s many shortcomings is the lack of mandated paid maternity leave, which like healthcare, is commonplace in the rest of the developed world and even countries like Cuba and China. 

In the US currently, the policy regarding maternity leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, only offers people 12 weeks of unpaid leave without any penalty to their pay or work position. 

This timeframe is a cruelly short amount of time and the lack of pay during what may be the most financially difficult time in someone’s life is unacceptable. 

There is very little use in allowing time off from work when the conditions of that time would only compel one to go back to work sooner. 

The benefits of paid maternity leave, especially when given to both parents, are numerous to the point where it seems like a no-brainer. 

Paid leave allows families to spend more time with their children. It massively relieves the financial burdens a family will inevitably experience during that time. It can even increase employee retention as much of the stresses from work can also be worked out during paid leave, where finances aren’t as much of a concern for a family who is already more than stressed. 

The process of having a child is inevitably going to be difficult for anybody, especially the individual who needs to carry the child and deliver it. 

Once the child is born, parents must cover various expenses for their survival. These include food, clothing, furniture, and overwhelming medical bills because citizens don’t have access to free healthcare here in America either. 

The expenses required to care for a newborn child can cost over $2,000 a month. Factoring in other costs that one must pay to survive can make this time particularly stressful for many people who simply do not have the money to buy the things they and their children need. 

Many Americans can barely afford to make it through their own lives on a steady income. There is simply no reason to abandon people during a time when they will undoubtedly be facing even more significant financial problems than they would normally. 

Over 80% of American citizens support some form of paid maternity leave. Despite this, lawmakers have made no effort to provide maternity leave at the government level.

A big reason for this is our general policy of favoring employers and entrepreneurs over the needs and rights of workers. This fact is evident in our crippling unionization rates compared to much of the world. 

The urge of politicians to side with business owners is nothing new. The interest of most of our politicians is, primarily, to uphold the role of capitalism in our society. 

The fact is that paying employees for their time off is directly adversarial to the company’s goals, which want to pay employees as little as possible for the most amount of work. 

There is no way to balance these interests without favoring one side as they are fundamentally opposed to one another. 

Employers are more than comfortable with not paying employees for time off. The lack of funds only incentivizes a return to the workplace, creating more stress and estranging them from their families. 

This treatment of workers sends the message that their most significant utility and value in life is not their personal lives, relationships, or even their families, but simply their work and how much they can produce.