From the Editor’s Desk: U.S. Lacks Paid Maternity, Paternity Leave

Originally published in Issue 6, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (November 17, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

As I contemplate my life after graduation, which seems to be an everyday occurrence, I often wonder about my future family. Women consider this issue more than men because women are still seen as the primary caretakers of children.

Yes, the U.S. is becoming more progressive and there are stay-at-home dads but that’s not really what I’m concerned about. Did you notice I called my future family an “issue?”

I would say that I want to have children when I’m older because let’s get real, any child that is half me is going to be awesome. But when I really consider how much time and attention children need, I think, “Mehh, kids ruin your life.”

So far, all I’ve known is school. It is this wonderful and terrible constant in my life; summer is over and I go back to school. All of my education has led up to college and my career. I’ve been essentially working toward it my whole life. My career is extremely important to me (I’m in a lot of debt because of it), and I don’t want kids to mess that up. However, to be fair, it’s not the kids that mess it up; it’s the system.

The U.S. is the only industrialized country that does not provide paid maternity leave to mothers, which means there is definitely no paid paternity leave for fathers.

This past September, Pew Research Center analyzed 41 nations, and countries such as Australia, Czech Republic, Norway, Hungary, Japan and many others have over a year’s worth of paid leave for new parents. Estonia offers the longest amount of paid leave at 82 weeks (over a year and a half).

According to Pew Research Center, most countries use a social-security-type system to fund the paid time off, but in some cases, the employer also pays part of the bill. Additionally, while the U.S. does not have a national paid leave mandate, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island have state-mandated paid leave plans.

While the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave, there are requirements to fulfill, such as working for a company with at least 50 employees and having worked at the company for at least one year. Many workers that do qualify for the leave do not take it because they can’t afford it.

The lack of parental support provided by the U.S. and its businesses forces many women to choose between taking care of their families and earning an income. However, I don’t want to have to choose, and I don’t want to have to compromise between my children or my career. The U.S. needs to up its game and catch up to the rest of the industrialized world.

Speaking of upping games, the environmental committee at DeSales has been making great improvements on campus, and the men’s and women’s basketball teams are ready for a successful season.

Additionally in this issue, The Minstrel covers Ben Long’s campaign, a how-to article on sleeping, which I’m sure we could all use a lot more of, and a large A&E section covering everything from movies, music, books and dance. I hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as my staff and I enjoyed writing it.

Peace, love & DeSales,

Kellie Dietrich
Editor-in-Chief

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