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Study focuses on need for paid maternity leave

Posted on May 15th, 2013 Read time: 1 minutes

The company's employee benefits administration may want to consider reevaluating their paid leave policy in light of a new study.

According to a recent report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), the United States is trailing other high-income industrialized countries in providing paid leave to parents after they welcome a new child. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are able to have up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to care for a new child, yet the U.S. does not require paid maternity leave.

IWPR highlights previous reports that found about one-third of the country's labor force are offered paid maternity leave with close to 20 percent of companies providing one to two weeks of paid time off or none at all. Many employers do offer paid leave benefits that go beyond legal requirements, but some still do not provide for those workers who are new parents.

Barbara Gault, vice president and executive director at IWPR, believes employee benefits administrations should look into providing paid leave.

"The evidence is clear: paid parental leave is good for children, for mothers, and for fathers," Gault said. "The absence of paid parental leave is particularly pernicious for low-waged families, hurting both the current and next generation."

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