I recently came across a great blog titled “The Trouble With Parental Leave” authored by Robin Hardman of Robin Hardman Communications. She describes a breakout session she recently attended at the annual WorkLife Congress event about paternity leave. She notes that the conversation soon expanded beyond paternity leave issues to parental leave in general. What is the purpose of paternity leave? What is the purpose of any kind of parental leave?
She briefly summarizes the history behind maternity leave when Congress finally agreed that pregnancy should be treated like any other kind of “medical disability” so that many women would be entitled to paid leave through company disability policies.
The blog highlights many of the ongoing challenges with how we manage parental leave in the U.S. and why reform is needed. The following comment by Ms. Hardman sums up the parental leave situation at present: “Since companies can now cover at least some of the cost of paid leave for biological mothers through disability insurance, and since men may pay a higher career cost than women when they take leave, and since adoption still often ranks as a somehow inferior way of acquiring a child, and since it doesn’t look like the federal government is going to step into legislate change anytime soon–well, it looks like we have a long way to go before parental leave in the U.S. is adequate and equitable.”
In 2015, while a necessary evil so as to allow paid maternity leave for many, it is simply ridiculous that pregnancy is considered a “medical disability.” We all deserve a better law that provides a right to parental leave so that we can make the best possible choices as parents about how to care for and bond with our children.