Becoming a new parent is challenging, even when there are a lot of supports in place. This challenge can be even greater for new parents who have to choose between taking the necessary time to heal after birth (and bond with their baby) or going to work so they can pay the most basic bills. In so many other counties, this isn’t a concern because federal paid leave plans exist basically everywhere. Except for the United States. The US still doesn’t have anything by way of federal paid leave – and nearly 80 percent of parents are “outraged” about that, according to a new poll.
A survey of 2,000 parents who have kids between the ages of zero to 18, conducted by OnePoll, examined how paid leave impacts their lives. And the results were pretty clear: parents are angry and believe the government “has no idea what it means to raise a family while living paycheck to paycheck.”
Out of the 2,000 parents, 77 percent, or nearly eight in 10 polled, “feel outraged that the U.S. has no federal paid family leave laws for new moms and dads.”
There was some hope that this might be changing when President Joe Biden proposed the Build Back Better bill which initially was going to be a robust family leave plan. However, when that became clear it wasn’t going to happen, four weeks of paid time off was proposed. In any case, the entire plan is currently stalled in Congress.
Parents made it clear in the poll that even if those 4 weeks of paid leave miraculously made it into law, it’s not going to be enough. Seventy-five percent of polled parents “agree that four weeks is not enough time to raise a newborn or recover from a pregnancy.” And when asked how much time would be enough, it was far more.
“Twenty-eight percent believe new parents should receive at least 11 to 20 weeks of paid leave to adjust to parenthood,” the poll results show. “And 22 percent think 21 to 30 weeks is a more appropriate time frame for new moms and dads.”
With such a huge disconnect, it’s not surprising to hear that the 2019 Pew Research Center study ranked the U.S. last of 41 nations on a list that mandates paid leave for new parents.
“The U.S. is the only wealthy country in the world where this is the case,” Ruth Milkman, a professor of labor studies and sociology at the City University of New York, says about the lack of paid family leave. Adding, “in fact, most developing countries have better policies than we do. The reasons are complex but strikingly parallel to the situation with national health insurance. The Affordable Care Act is a start on this but it does not provide universal coverage. All other rich countries do so.”
“I agree that four weeks is not ideal, but it certainly is better than zero,” she continued. “Sadly though, the prospects of Build Back Better becoming law appear to be slim in any case.”
A few other important stats from the poll shows that 72 percent of parents feel like they have to choose between earning a paycheck and raising their kids. Another t69 percent said that the lack of a federal paid family leave “has made them rethink whether or not they want to have more children.”