Did you know new parents in Estonia are guaranteed 87 weeks of paid leave when they have a child?
That’s a year and a half, and it’s the longest leave policy in the world.
Now guess how many weeks of paid leave parents are guaranteed in the United States?
If you said “zero”, go ahead and pat yourself on the back, because you got it right. Among 41 countries, the United States is the only one not to offer any amount of maternity or paternity leave. A few states have mandated paid leave policies including California, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
The Family Medical Leave Act permits new parents that qualify to take up to 12 weeks off to care for a newborn. But there is no law requiring time off to be paid. Without a federal paid leave policy, most working parents in the United States rely on the generosity of their employers to provide paid time off. Unfortunately, not all employers are that generous.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 14 percent of civilian workers had access to paid family leave in 2016. There are signs that access is expanding and more employers are offering family leave than ever before. New research found more than a third of employers had a maternity leave policy more generous than required by law, compared to 1 in 6 in 2011.
Because paid time off isn’t guaranteed by law, employers now offer it as an extra perk. Generous parental leave policies have become an important benefit for companies that seek to attract top talent. All of the country’s biggest employers offer paid maternity leave, while others have policies for fathers and adoptive parents. A few go even as far as to provide paid time off for new puppy owners.
How Much Paid Leave is Fair
Given that the United States the only major country that doesn’t offer paid leave, we wanted to find out from working parents how much time off they thought was fair.
SpareFoot surveyed more than 1,000 parents about how much time off they took when their child was born. The results reveal a disparity between what people think is a fair amount of time off, and how much time they actually took off from themselves. In general, both mothers and fathers, took less time off than they thought it was fair—primarily due to financial reasons.
For example, a majority of women (27 percent) said they took 4 to 6 weeks off when their child was born, despite a majority of women (33 percent) stating that 2-3 months was a fair amount of time. Overall, 62 percent of women said that they took less time off than they consider fair for mothers in general.
In case you were wondering, SpareFoot offers a robust parental leave policy, including 12-weeks paid maternity leave, one week delivery of chef-prepared meals and one month of laundry service. The SpareFoot office also has a designated Mother’s Room and is a Silver-Level Friendly Mother Workplace.
For more on our parental leave findings, check out the infographic below: