The Spark

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

Cutting maternity leave:
A human catastrophe

Jun 16, 2008

The United States is only one of a small handful of countries that does not offer guaranteed paid maternity leave for women – not to speak of leave for men helping to care for newborns. The other countries that, like the U.S., don’t offer this are Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland –extremely poor and underdeveloped countries. Most other countries guarantee at least 14 or more weeks of paid maternity leave. Of course, one has to be legally employed to qualify for this – which still leaves out a lot of unemployed women, or women earning a living in temporary or small jobs under the table, especially in most underdeveloped countries.

But in the U.S., paid maternity leave is not only not guaranteed for all, it is legally considered to be a disability, treated like an illness or some other medical problem. And just as with other medical problems, less and less do employers cover this. Over the last 10 years, the number of employers offering paid time off for women when they have a baby has dropped by almost half. According to a new study by the non-profit Families and Work Institute, only 16% of employers now offer post-childbirth pay for new mothers down from the already low 27% in 1998. The study also found that those employers that still do offer paid maternity leave are slashing the amount of time mothers – as well as fathers – can get off to take care of their new born baby.

Workers and their infants are literally being sacrificed on the altar of an increasingly more brutal drive for profit.