The U.S. Could Finally Guarantee Paid Parental Leave

May 19th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

President Donald Trump's soon to be released budget includes a revised parental leave program designed by his daughter, Ivanka. 

If the first daughter's plan come to fruition, the U.S. would join the rest of the developed world by guaranteeing six weeks of paid leave for new mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents.

According to The Washington Post, White House officials said President Trump's budget proposal sets funds aside for an inclusive parental leave program, which Ivanka played a role in crafting. She will also be involved in negotiations when the budget is debated in Congress.

Ivanka, who serves as an assistant to the president, has positioned herself as a moderating influence on her father, pushing him to adopt polices that protect LGBT individuals from workplace discrimination, for example. However, critics on the left feel she's fallen short of those expectations, and describes her contributions as being mostly superficial. 


But this proposal represents a significant expansion since Ivanka first announced a parental leave program in September.

That program would have only guaranteed paid leave for mothers, leaving out a broad range of parents, including gay adoptive dads.

When initially pressed about how the plan fell short for LGBT dads, Ivanka said, "The plan, right now, is focusing on mothers, whether they be in same-sex marriages or not."

Though six weeks of paid leave is relatively short in contrast to other countries — which guarantee anywhere from eight to 87 weeks of paid leave — Democrats will likely get behind the program, experts told the Post. 

"It’s a major step forward, and it’s better than zero, which is what parents are guaranteed now," Jeffrey Hayes, program director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told the Post. "Trump is the first Republican in the White House to talk about this, so he could get some bipartisan support."

What distinguishes this program is its inclusion of fathers and adoptive parents. Only 70 of the 182 countries that have paid parental leave programs allow fathers to take off time after their child is born, ThinkProgress reported.

Advocates who've called for the expansion of parental leave programs have cited research on the benefits for both parents and their children. Fathers who take paid leave tend to be more involved in childcare later in life and assume more household responsibilities. One study that looked at parental leave programs in Sweden found that mothers' incomes increased by seven percent for every month that the father was on paid leave.

Details of the proposal haven't been released yet, and it's possible that Congress will make changes to the program when the budget is brought to the floor on Tuesday. If it does come to pass, though, it'd benefit an estimated 1.3 million people, according to White House officials.