What the President Wants To Do For New Parents

January 15th 2015

ATTN: Staff

The White House is pushing for American workers to receive time off after they have a new child.

President Obama is signing a memorandum today that will guarantee that federal employees will have access to at least 6 weeks of paid family leave after their new child's birth. He's asking Congress and the states to urge private employers to offer their workers the same benefit.

"Because we can't say we stand for family values when so many women in this country have to jeopardize their financial security just to take a few weeks off of work after giving birth," wrote White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett in a LinkedIn post.

Many people don't realize that, for private sector workers, paid maternity leave is not guaranteed in the US. You have to hope your boss offers it voluntarily. Certain workers in the private sector are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave and unpaid family leave, which includes leave to care for new babies as well as leave to care for a sick family member. But that only covers full-time workers at companies with at least 50 employees. Plus, it's unpaid

Even more shocking is how the US fares in this area compared to the rest of the world. Take it away Business Insider:

According to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, there are only two countries in the world that don’t have some form of legally protected, partially paid time off for working women who’ve just had a baby: Papua New Guinea and the U.S.

Jarrett says the White House will push Congress and the states to pass laws allowing millions of private sector workers to earn up to seven days of paid leave.

Such legislation is unlikely to pass through a Republican Congress. On the bright side, as was pointed out by the Huffington Post, Democrats have had success at the local and state level with these type of workplaces issues. Even though Republicans swept Democrats out of power in Congress and in many state elections last November, minimum wage did well at the state level, winning on the ballot in four states.