The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

U.S. babies deserve better

Aug 20, 2007

“Family values,” say the politicians, as they begin their campaigning. But for working women who have newborn babies? The Family Medical Leave Act says women can have 12 weeks off, without losing the job – but only if they can afford to take it off WITHOUT pay. Companies in the U.S. have no obligation to pay for any maternity leave, unlike in most other countries.

Austria, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands and Poland pay 100% of a mother’s wages for four months. The other rich countries pay between 60% and 90% of wages for maternity leave. Only Australia and the U.S., among rich countries, pay nothing.

It’s not a question of money. A number of poor countries pay wages for a whole year – Russia, Ukraine, Albania, Bulgaria, Latvia and Cuba.

U.S. policy is just like the policy in some of the poorest countries on earth: Lesotho, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea have no paid maternity leave.

Politicians support a woman staying home with a newborn child – but only when families have enough money to pay for it. In the U.S., the citadel of capitalism, nothing gets in the way of what businesses want, not even a newborn child!