The fight for paid maternity leave
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In a 3-2 decision, the Warner Robins city council struck down a proposal that would provide paid maternity leave to employees. According to the Macon Telegraph, those who were in opposition to the proposal decided not to comment on why they made their decision.
This proposal would have provided new mothers with 4 weeks of paid maternity leave. With the system that exists currently, employees have to use sick days or vacation days to care for their kids.
Council members Tim Thomas, Mike Davis and Carolyn Robbins voted against the proposal while Chuck Shaheen and Keith Lauritsen voted in favor of it.
During a pre-council meeting, Councilman Davis talked of concerns about how much the new proposal would cost.
The situation in Warner Robins merely reflects a larger narrative that has been taking place on a national level for years.
Local and state governments are not always equipped to handle the costs of paid maternity leave. If this battle is going to be won anywhere, it is going to have to be won at a national level.
According to Politifact, the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not provide paid family leave.
United States law does require that businesses with 50 or more workers must provide 12 job-protected weeks annually to care for newborn children, but these weeks are not required to be compensated with pay.
There are zero leave policies in place for fathers.
In a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), they found that amongst OECD countries mothers are given an average of 17 weeks of paid maternity leave.
There are many questions as to why the United States, being the most industrialized nation on Earth, still does not have federal mandates for maternity leave, and not many answers. Only four of 50 states have publicly funded paid maternity leave.
The issue could be a result of the federal government’s reluctance to impose new regulations on businesses. One of the first executive orders that Trump has signed in his presidency requires that for every new federal regulation on businesses, two must be repealed.
The U.S. has a rocky history with worker’s rights, often enacting economic policies that heavily favor businesses over workers. Even today, labor unions face heavy opposition from government and big business.
However, it’s time to stop treating female workers like a liability instead of an asset just because they may become pregnant, and especially when they do.
Entrepreneur and daughter of the president, Ivanka Trump, has been pushing to get a child care reform bill passed that would allow for six weeks of job-protected maternity leave and a childcare tax credit.
Considering how much influence the president’s daughter has in the White House, it is entirely possible that this proposal could gain some traction.
However, with what according to CNN would be a “$300 billion price tag” it is uncertain that Trump’s influence will be enough to get fiscal conservatives to make a move on this proposal.
If the United States is going to claim to be a country that boasts about elevating family values, then that should mean its business practices shouldn’t hinder the ability for parents to raise their kids.
Editor’s note: This article was written before the council reversed their decision on March 6. The Warner Robins city council voted to approve four weeks of maternity leave.