It’s not just corporate employers who are guilty of cruel insensitivity. Just look at the terrible example the US government has set with it’s Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 which mandates a minimum 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Sure, twelve weeks may sound like a lot compared to the measly 2-4 weeks of paid vacation that most employees receive, but bear in mind that this 12 weeks is all that new mothers get before they are forced to leave their new babies to return to work.
To put this in perspective for you, in Germany, mothers are given 120 weeks of unpaid leave, and that’s on top of the first 42 weeks of paid time that they get off work to heal and bond with their need babies. That’s 10X the unpaid leave that we get in America, plus they get almost a whole year of paid time off too. I won’t go over all the countries that hook new moms up, but France is another noteworthy one. France gives new moms 142 weeks of unpaid time off on top of 20 weeks paid.
Many people will tell you that something like this “would never work”. Just imagine all those pregnant moms behind the counter at fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, all getting paid for months by their employers to stay home a nurture their brand new babies. My gosh, they wouldn’t have to go on welfare! So we, the taxpayers, would be supporting them, it would be their employers supporting them. What a novel concept. Of course those same people who told you that this would never work will also tell you that making employers give paid time off would cause them to raise prices. I mean, you might end up paying a buck more for your cheeseburger, heaven forbid.
The way I see it, if mother’s were allowed to stay home longer with their babies it would strengthen society as a whole, and improve the quality of family life for the vast majority of Americans. These days the bonds of family have eroded. Women need to buy guides on how to potty train their kids, rather than simply reaching out to their own mothers and other women in their community who can share their own experience and maternal wisdom.
It’s not like I have no sensitivity towards the companies who employ mother’s. Obviously giving new moms time off, both paid and unpaid is going to effect a business’ bottom line. In the end what it really comes down to is ethics. Is it ethical not to pay a new mother in your employ, who needs time off to care for her offspring? In my opinion the answer is a resounding “no”, but this is something that we all need to decide for ourselves.