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US one of worst on parental leave

The United States is decades behind the rest of the world in parental leave policy and is one of only three countries with no guarantee of paid leave, a Human Rights Watch report said yesterday.

The United States is decades behind the rest of the world in parental leave policy and is one of only three countries with no guarantee of paid leave, a Human Rights Watch report said yesterday.

Of the 190 countries studied in the report, 178 guaranteed paid leave for new mothers and nine were unclear about their maternity policies. Just three countries clearly offer no legal guarantee of paid maternity leave — Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and the United States.

“Being an outlier is nothing to be proud of in a case like this,” said Janet Walsh, deputy women’s rights director of Human Rights Watch and the author of the report.

“Countries that have these programs show productivity gains, reduced turnover costs, and health care savings.”

The United States also lacks accommodations for breastfeeding mothers and has more than its share of workplace discrimination against new parents, the report said.

Roughly half of all Americans are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows employees with newborn children to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that only 11 percent of American workers have the option of taking paid medical leave.

“Leaving paid leave to the whim of the employers means millions of workers are left out, especially low-income workers,” Walsh said

 
 
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