Economic Snapshot | Unions and Labor Standards

No paid leave for new moms

Economic Snapshot for May 6, 2009

No paid leave for new U.S. moms

by Elise Gould

This Mother’s Day we reflect on the critical but often overlooked issue of maternity leave. Among peer countries with comparable per capita income (i.e., those in the G7), the United States provides the fewest mandated maternity leave benefits in both length of leave and amount of paid time off (see chart).

It wasn’t until 1993 that the United States passed the Family and Medical Leave Act, giving eligible parents 12 weeks unpaid leave to care for a new child. But not only is the leave unpaid, it is also only mandated for workplaces of more than 50 employees. The United States is the only country among its peers that does not guarantee some amount of leave with pay.1


1)  In 2005, California enacted the California Family Rights Act, a paid leave statute that covers maternity leave.

Look for more comparisons between the United States and its global peers in the upcoming The State of Working America 2008/2009, which will be released this month by the Economic Policy Institute.

See related work on Paid sick leave | Unions and Labor Standards | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

See more work by Elise Gould