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Why I’m in Favor of Paid Maternity Leave and Businesses Should Be Too

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The debate over paid maternity leave is heated and (incredibly) still actually a debate in the United States. In fact, the U.S. and Papua New Guinea are the only countries that are still stiffing women when it comes to paying up for maternity leave. As a woman and former helpless child in need of her mother, I’m outraged.

If you’re capable of empathy, this should be a no brainer. It isn’t just fun to be around your newborn, it’s a necessary part of having and raising a child. A baby needs to be coddled, to feel safe, and be protected so that they can be healthy and grow. It’s a mother’s instinct to nurture and protect her child in return.

The CEOs don’t really understand the importance of maternal bonding, the hormones that are released, all that complicated woman sh*t, but they’re the ones making these choices. According to the men in suits, it shouldn’t be their problem if a woman decides to procreate. Basically, women should really consider their uterus before applying to the job.

Companies like Netflix are being praised for their parental leave policies. What isn’t said is that these policies only apply to salaried employees, leaving out employees in distribution centers where the pay is less and the work is more physically demanding. They’ve created two classes: the elite get to spend time with their babies without worrying about paying the bills and everyone else doesn’t. This isn’t progressive, it’s f*cking backwards thinking.

Let’s set aside this bleeding heart liberal ideal and consider big business’ “needs”. It’s true, how are you supposed to make money if you’re paying people to NOT work? We can’t expect a company to offer a year of unlimited paid maternal leave to all their employees, it’s just not feasible. However, happy and healthy employees are the foundation of any productive company.

But how productive can an employee be if being away from their child is making them sick? A 2013 study found the length of maternity leave has an effect on postpartum depression (PPD). When the statistics are broken down, going back to work before 3 months after having a baby nearly doubles the risk for PPD. Waiting as long as a whole year to return to work, however, also increases the risk for PPD. Some mothers actually do want to work, they just need time. Businesses really should care about this because they’re going to be shelling out a hell of a lot on healthcare costs. A depressed employee is a sick employee.  

If we’re going to get anywhere on this issue, we need to be rational. Working mothers need time to adjust to motherhood and they need money to do it. It doesn’t matter what your career or salary is, this is a basic human right. Businesses, however, also need workers. If they could drop the mentality of “figure it out yourself,” and adopt one of “let me help you (within reason),” their employees would be happier, healthier, and more productive. And that’s a win for everyone.

 


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