Most Americans would be fairly pleased with an employer who offers paid maternity leave. That is because in our country, paid maternity leave is still rather rare. America is a bit isolated amongst other countries on this issue - many countries, including most in Europe, have laws which guarantee certain periods of paid maternity leave. Of course, one of the rationales behind the paid maternity leave in those countries is to encourage population growth, a problem about which America currently need not be concerned. So, if any of our Denver area readers are not among the lucky few employees in this country with a paid leave option, where do they turn?
The answer is the Family Medical Leave Act. This federal law guarantees an employee, whether they are an expectant mother or father, up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to attend to their newborn baby. The law is also meant to protect that employee's position with their employer, guaranteeing that the employee will be able to return to their former position, or a similar one, without fear of discrimination upon their return to work.
Many consider the FMLA to be a good start, but some argue that the laws should go further to protect growing families. Right now, an employer offering any type of paid leave would probably consider it a "fringe benefit," and an overly nice one at that. But there are some who support the position that the federal government could do more to implement laws guaranteeing at least some period of paid leave.
While the idea of paid maternity leave begins to take root in America, employees can, for now, be assured of job security through the FMLA. Anyone who believes that their employer is discriminating against them because they are using the key aspects of the FMLA may have a claim to pursue.
Source: Hispanic Business.com, "Many New Parents Don't Get Paid Leave," Jacob Kanclerz, Aug. 13, 2012