No-leave policy’s long-lived effects

Human Rights Watch has produced a report on how the lack of parental leave hurts US families.

Rather than just a compilation of statistics, this report includes interviews with a few dozen people, with vivid descriptions of how working parents and children suffer when work-family policies let them down. Here is one vignette:

Diana T. was 18 and worked full-time at a large retail store when her first daughter was born. Her manager was unhappy about her pregnancy, and forced Diana to pick items off the floor late in her pregnancy, even if other staff was available to do so. Diana took a six-week leave with no pay when her first daughter was born since her employer did not allow her to use accrued sick pay. She had a nine-week leave when her second daughter arrived: six paid at 60 percent of her salary (of less than $30,000 per year), and one paid in full through accrued paid time off. Diana fell into credit card debt and had trouble paying rent during her unpaid leave. She also needed two surgeries shortly after the second birth. She requested, but was denied, a week off to heal and returned to work three days after surgery. Lacking a space at work to pump, Diana breastfed her first baby for two months, well short of the four to twelve months she had originally hoped. Diana had post-partum depression after both children, but especially after her first baby, who was ill. Diana’s employer regularly threatened to replace her if she took time off for the baby’s frequent medical appointments and often switched her to night work, which was especially difficult for her as a single parent. Diana went without health insurance for more than a year, and was therefore never treated for her depression.

There is a nice compilation of policies for many countries in an appendix, too.

Healthy family leaves

3 thoughts on “No-leave policy’s long-lived effects

  1. I understand how this could be used to urge more government support to those who need it. However, requiring more from the employer would result in more sexist hiring practices.


  2. Mark – not if paternity leave was ALSO granted and if we could stop the stigma surrounding fathers who use their leave.


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