US Department of Labor joins push for paid maternity, family leave

The US Department of Labor has joined President Obama and Democratic leaders, including Sen. Angus King I-Maine, in their push for paid maternity and family leave programs at the state level. Yesterday, the department announced it awarded three states and the District of Columbia $500,000 to fund feasibility studies on the development of implementation of paid leave policies.

“Too many working families today can’t afford to take the time they need to care for their families or themselves because they lack any form of paid leave,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. “We need to do more to give people the tools to be responsible employees and good caregivers, so they don’t have to choose between the families they love and the jobs and economic security they need. These federal grants will further our understanding of this issue. Because paid leave isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes economic sense.”

The US is the only developed country in the world that does not offer some form of paid maternity leave, a fact Obama mentioned in his speech in June at The White House Summit on Working Families.

“Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth — now that’s a pretty low bar,” he told summit attendees. “That, we should be able to take care of.”

More recently, King announced that he and Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska drafted a proposal that would create a tax credit to assist and encourage employers that offer paid family medical leave. 

Some companies in Maine, including the Bangor Daily News, do offer paid maternity leave for both parents; however, it is not a requirement or commonplace. And, while there is not mandatory paid leave, the state does require businesses with fewer than 50 employees but more than 15, to extend unpaid leave under the federal Family, Medical Leave Act to workers who have been employed for at least 12 consecutive months.

Were you able to take time off after having a child? Was it paid or unpaid?


Natalie Feulner

About Natalie Feulner

Natalie Feulner is a journalist and “semi-crunchy” cloth diapering momma to a rambunctious toddler named after a county in California. She drinks too much tea and loves to climb rocks but not at the same time.