Should All Work Places Be Required to Provide Paid Maternity and Paternity Leave?

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Lilly Wonderly, Staff Writer

There needs to be federal laws passed to expand the 1993 Act to grant paid maternity and parental leave. It is ridiculous that the USA has little to no family/medical leave laws as a developed country. Essentially, it is up to the company’s employer to determine the amount of leave allowed and whether it is paid or not. This creates conflicts such as gender discrimination in the workplace. Sometimes, employers will not hire pregnant women or women in general because they require “more resources” like maternity leave. Paternity leave is very uncommon in the US because our society does not prioritize a father’s involvement in their newborn’s life. However, employers are not to blame. The government does not emphasize mothers and their newborns. How are employers supposed to justify having paid family leave if the government diverts no efforts or care to the subject? For instance, Congress has passed the Social Security Act, unemployment insurance, and other programs that assist different demographics. It is clear these are essential topics employers should consider, and they do so through benefits like medical insurance and disability leave. It is a mystery why the government does not help pregnant women in the same way they assist other society members. 

Many childcare services were forced to shut down due to the pandemic, and some ceased to re-open. The responsibility of childcare fell on mothers. Mothers struggle to balance their children’s homeschooling across the nation while working remotely, maintaining the house, and cooking meals. In some cases, they had no choice but to leave their job. Mothers in European countries such as Norway and Sweden did not experience this increased responsibility. In America, it is the parents’ responsibility to find childcare, whereas it is the government’s responsibility in other countries. The pandemic has brought light to America’s lack of care towards childcare and development. My mother works at an elementary school, and she is also expected to help my autistic brother with remote learning. With both my parents at work, the responsibility falls on me to log my brother into class, he gets frustrated with math, and I help him the best I can. I remind myself that other families are struggling worse. I hope that President Biden will recognize the government’s responsibility to offer maternity/paternity leave, financial support regarding childcare services, and laws that value every child’s development regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, or social/economic status.