Parental leave is a term that is meant to encompass both maternity and paternity leave and is growing more popular throughout the globe as more and more countries aknowledge the benefits of early child rearing.

Worldwide (well, almost, you'll see in a bit) there are three basic methods for providing expectant parents with some type of child care both before and after a baby is born and in many cases a newborn is adopted. The first is a parental leave policy in which either the mom, dad or in some cases both, will receive a percentage of their salary both before and after the arrival of their child while continuing to stay home and tend to their offspring.

The second provides what is known as child care subsidies provided by the government for such things that don’t directly involve parenting in a traditional sense. This would include such things as nannies and day care and is available in many countries to parents whether they are working or not.

The third is what’s known as early childhood benefit programs that will also subsidize the rearing of the child after the parents have gone back to work.

The vast majority of countries around the world have national mandates and laws in place that require all employers to pay for some type of maternity or paternity leave. Most of them, especially in Europe, require that employers foot the bill (or some percentage thereof) of the mothers salary for 10 full weeks sometimes before and after the pregnancy. Many countries also will foot the bill for the father for some period of time so that he too can enjoy the early years and form a bond with them.

It appears the world is finally getting wise to the importance of those early years when a child is so young and their first impressions are being formed. As matter of fact, of the 158 largest countries in the world only four of them have no national policy that mandates that employers provide maternal, paternal, or parental leave.

They are as follows:

  • Liberia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Swaziland
  • United States of America
  • Huh? That last one kinda took me by surprise. I’m sure many of you are saying “But borgo, I would’ve thought that the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 would have had the fine citizens of America leading the way and thumping their chest over what a progressive and fair nation we are when it comes to giving mothers and fathers time to raise their children.” In response and after doing some research I discovered that there’s so many loopholes in it that many people are left to fend for themselves and could possibly find themselves out of job or facing other dire circumstances should they decide to have a baby. Here’s just a few.

    First of all the act uses the words “certain employees”. I’m pretty sure that means only fulltime workers and workers who have been on the job for over a year or two. Given the state of the economy today here in America, that would exclude a shit ton of workers right from the start.

    Second, if you work for a mom and pop operation and they have less than fifty employees they are not mandated to provide you with any kind of leave, pay or job security if you need to take some time off to the raise your child. Of course, depending on the nature of mom and pop it’s entirely up to them but given the harsh realities of today’s economic climate those instances are becoming fewer and fewer.

    It is true that some states (California and New Jersey) have taken matters into their own hands and are enforcing some kind of parental leave policy at the local level regardless of the workers status.

    In closing, it’s weird, every country that we’ve gone to war with over the years from such “large” nations as Germany, Japan, and North Korea to such “small” nations as Viet Nam and Grenada to such so-called “backward nations” as Iraq and Afghanistan have some kind of national policy when it comes to either maternal, paternal or parental leave.

    We still have far to go.


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