The United States lags far behind most countries in ensuring the wellbeing of its working families, Human Rights Watch says in a new report “Failing Its Families: Lack of Paid Leave and Work-Family Supports in the U.S.”
At least 178 countries have national laws that guarantee paid leave for new mothers, and more than 50 also guarantee paid leave for new fathers. More than 100 of those countries offer 14 or more weeks of paid leave for new mothers.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does enable workers with new children or family members with serious medical to take job-protected leave, but it is unpaid and covers only about half of the workforce.
The adoption of laws to enable workers around the world to meet work and family obligations has largely been in response to the massive growth in women’s participation in the labor force lover the last century. Even though women now are nearly half of the work force in the U.S., the federal and state governments have changed little to support the modern workforce.
As a result, says Janet Walsh, deputy women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report, “Workers face grave health, financial, and career repercussions. U.S. employers miss productivity gains and turnover savings that these cost-effective policies generate in other countries.
Research for the 90-page report included interviews with 64 parents across the country.