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John Oliver Takes On America’s Terrible Maternity Leave Policies

The best gift for mom this season is federal laws mandating paid maternity leave.

The US has some of the worst maternity leave policies in the world—federal laws only require that companies give new mothers 12 unpaid weeks off. It’s an urgently important issue that doesn’t get much speech-play these days. But John Oliver made it the focus of his Mother’s Day episode of Last Week Tonight on Sunday, highlighting the hypocritical contradiction in a culture that celebrates mothers with a billion-dollar greeting card industry but won’t lend them the financial support they need to be present mothers.


“There are women who want to get back to work as soon as they can and that’s obviously fine,” said Oliver in his monologue. “But for many women, the current situation forces them to return well before they want to.”

Oliver highlights some of the pitfalls of such a weak maternity leave policy—women have to stich up paid health and vacation days just to get by; others go back to work even while still suffering from the painful aftereffects of giving birth to a new human baby.

"You can't go on and on about how much you love moms but fail to pass legislation that makes life easier for them,” said Oliver.

Check out the segment below.

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