Does your job offer paid family leave? Lauren’s sure doesn’t.
The National Partnership for Women & Families published a video titled “A Long Five Years,” introducing us to Lauren, a paralegal at a small law firm in Denver, who has been pregnant for 260 weeks, 5 days and 9 hours.
Now, before you drop your jaw, she hasn’t actually been pregnant for that long. Rather, she has “stayed pregnant” to make an important point about paid family leave: that she, like 86 percent of us in the United States, has a job that doesn’t offer it. Because Lauren can’t afford to take time off to have her baby, she has simply decided not to give birth until she has tallied up enough paid vacation days.
Sadly, the US is the only developed country that does not mandate a national paid maternity leave (But on a state level, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York have policies). And the 12 weeks off without pay that the Family and Medical Leave Act does provide for can be unrealistic for many families. In fact, nearly one in four new moms is back at work within two weeks of giving birth, according to The National Partnership for Women & Families.
What can we do about this? The National Partnership for Women and Families created a petition to support a comprehensive national paid leave law. Also, if you’re on leave now or looking to help someone who’s expecting, check out Take 12, a maternity leave registry that crowdsources funds to provide new moms with financial support. (Lauren needs this, STAT, before her bump is too big to fit in the office elevator.)