There’s no greater joy that becoming a mother. Seeing your baby for the first time, seeing something you created out of nothing come to life is beautiful. But, at the same time you’re thinking about how many days you have with your baby. Depending on your employer you might have a couple of days unpaid or 6 weeks paid maternity leave. Many women are forced to use sick days, personal days, and vacation just to stay afloat. While paid maternity leave is normal in many countries around the world, in the U.S., it’s not.
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According to the United Nations International Labor Organization out of the 185 countries with available data, there are only 2 that do no provide cash benefits to women during maternity leave, Papua New Guinea and the U.S. Last year the Oman established paid maternity leave after pressure from them.
Many people immigrate to the U.S. from Latin American countries hoping to build a better life for their children, but when it comes to women’s rights, the U.S. is lacking. In Cuba women get 18 weeks of paid maternity leave, Argentina give 90 days and if their child has Down Syndrome it can be extended to 6 months. Costa Rica gives 16 weeks, and other countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Colombia give 12 weeks paid.
A Better Balance, a New York-based national legal advocacy group released a report this week: Investing in Our Families: The Case for Paid Family Leave in New York and the Nation. They are bringing awareness to this issue and even though it’s not a law to give paid maternity leave in the U.S., women do have rights.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a law that says that an employer cannot fire you because you are pregnant and that you may be granted the same health, disability, and sick leave benefits as with any other disease. You are also allowed to work as long as you are able to and you are guaranteed job security when you come back. Just because you leave to have your baby this doesn’t mean that your job will be given to someone else or you lose seniority, you are still eligible for pay increases and benefits.