The challenge of parenthood when there’s no paid leave

There are nearly 200 countries in the world today. The actual figure is subject to debate. Depending on the source you go with, the number ranges from 189 to 196. One thing that is not subject to debate is that when it comes to paid maternity leave, the United States is a distinct outlier.

Fewer than 10 countries in the entire world lack policies granting paid leave for workers, female or male, hoping to take time off with the arrival of a newborn. The U.S. is one of them.

Federal and California laws do grant workers some protection if they have to take a leave to deal with a family situation. But the protection is limited. It comes in the form of a set period of time off. It’s generally unpaid leave, though you might be able to get vacation pay if it is due you.

If a company has only a few employees, the Family Medical Leave Act and California Family Rights Act may not apply. And even if the laws do apply, an employer might not be aware of the laws’ requirements.

That puts the onus of protecting your rights if you believe they’ve been violated on you, the individual. Consulting an attorney is always recommended to understand your rights and decide what steps to take.

An article in a recent issue of Cosmopolitan offers several views of the challenges new working parents can face when trying to welcome a new family member while worrying about where the money is going to come from. Every story is unique to the person telling it, but we suspect the situations are common enough that readers will find some element with which they can identify.

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