Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Proposed Model for Paid Maternity Leave

The Maine Women’s Fund blog, E-Quality Matters recently published a post, “Women in the Workplace” that explored a proposal to fund 12 weeks paid maternity leave for all employees.

California and Washington State are both experimenting with a new method for financing PAID maternity leave for EVERYONE (regardless of their company policy, company size, etc). …In the model introduced in the West, all regular employees contribute $.01 from each pay check towards an insurance fund. The fund is aggregated, invested, and used to cover the cost of 12 weeks paid maternity leave for all employed citizens. I like this model because somewhere deep down there is a recognition that society benefits from investing in moms and children.” (read more)

Currently, federal law protects employees taking time off for family and medical reasons under FMLA regulations that stipulate employees can take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave per year. Additionally, their employer may not retaliate against them for taking advantage of FMLA leave. However, in many other industrialized nations across Europe and throughout Asia, new parents are extended paid time off up to one year. Most American employees, with a lower tax burden, do not enjoy this benefit. The model discussed on the E-Quality Matters blog places the burden of funding paid maternity leave not on tax payers or employers but on fellow employees. These maternity leave benefits are then offered universally to new parents.

As the baby boomers exit the workplace, talent held by top female employees is coveted by companies nation-wide. Mothers who previously might elect to exit the workforce after childbirth are being encouraged to stay on staff with benefits packages that include paid maternity leave, flexible scheduling options, and childcare resources. Do you think the proposed model for paid maternity leave is fair? Is it feasible?

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