One of the biggest stresses families and women face during pregnancy and after giving birth is maternity leave. Although most companies offer Family Medical Leave or short term disability, there’s a huge population of women in the U.S that are forced to take unpaid leave after giving birth. Even with more men opting to take leave, households without two incomes can still be stressful for some. But that could change soon.
Democratic Legislator Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) have proposed a nationwide paid maternity leave. The proposed Family Act seeks to establish an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration. The fund would be financed by a new payroll contribution from employees and employers of 0.2 percent of wages, to pay benefits and administrative costs.
The Family Act would:
- Provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income when they take time for their own serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery; the serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner; the birth or adoption of a child; and/or for particular military caregiving and leave purposes.
- Enable workers to earn 66 percent of their monthly wages, up to a capped amount.
- Cover workers in all companies, no matter their size. Younger, part-time, lower-wage and contingent workers would be eligible for benefits.
- Be funded by small employee and employer payroll contributions of two-tenths of one percent each (two cents per $10 in wages), or about $1.50 per week for a typical worker.
- Be administered through a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave within the Social Security Administration. Payroll contributions would cover both insurance benefits and administrative costs.
The act isn’t without critics. The National Federation of Independent Business feel the bill would remove the flexibility companies now have to offer when it comes to leave. Currently most companies only offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid time after childbirth under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Federal and other government employees can also take uncompensated time.