I never gave Sweden much thought until I got pregnant. As I was negotiating my maternity leave -- and trying to figure out just how long I could afford to go without a paycheck -- the cold reality of being a working parent in this country hit me. Instead of lusting over fancy cribs or cute onesies, I'd read with great envy the generous leave policies in other countries. Fifty-two weeks in Australia! A full year in Serbia -- even with baby number two! An astounding 480 days off in Sweden!
Of course, it's no secret that when it comes to paid maternity leave, the United States lags behind most other nations. The most Washington is able to offer many of us working moms and dads is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows you to take up to 12 weeks -- unpaid -- to be with baby after she's born. Still, many people aren't able to go without a paycheck that long and end up having to cut their leave short. And the picture is even bleaker for if you have a sick baby. You need to be with your child but you also need the money and benefits of a steady job. Considering that in most homes, both parents work -- in almost three out of five married families, according to the U.S. Department Of Labor -- it's astonishing that our workplaces aren't offering many moms and dads the guaranteed flexibility they need.
A new video and social media campaign created by the DOL hopes to shine a light on the need for paid leave laws, both on the state and federal level. It comes hot on the heels of this summer's White House Summit on Working Families, which was also designed to give lawmakers a wake-up call to the issue. Both are a step in the right direction, but as the video below shows, much more needs to be done. But don't take my word for it -- watch it below:
Tell us: Were you satisfied with the amount of maternity leave you were given? Did you end up taking any unpaid time off?
Getting ready to go back to work after baby? Check out our tips for making a smooth transition back from maternity leave. And if you're considering becoming a SAHM, you can use our Stay at Home Calculator to see if you can afford to make the move. To keep up with the latest baby news, don't forget to like All About Babies on Facebook!
Screen shot courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor