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New San Francisco Law Provides Fully-Paid Maternity Leave

Only three countries in the world have no paid maternity leave

via Flicker user (cc) Terry Ratcliff

According to the U.N’s Institute of Labor, there are only three countries on planet Earth that have no paid-maternity-leave law. Papua New Guinea, Oman, and the United States of America. The last major federal law in the U.S. to address the issue was 1993’s F.M.L.A. law that allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of time off without being fired if they have a newborn child or an ill family member. But here’s the rub: the leave is unpaid, so low-wage workers can’t take advantage of the time off because they need to make money to pay for their new arrival. That’s why a new law about to be take effect in San Francisco is a big victory for working families.

On Tuesday, San Francisco lawmakers became first place in the U.S. to approve a law that requires employers to provide fully-paid maternity leave to new parents for six weeks. “The vast majority of workers in this country have little or no access to paid parental leave, and that needs to change,” Supervisor Scott Wiener said at a news conference. Currently, California gives workers 55 percent of their pay for up to six weeks of maternity leave and the money comes from a worker-paid insurance plan. Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York are the only other U.S states with similar laws.

Although the measure requires another vote by the city’s Board of Supervisors, and approval from Mayor Ed Lee, its viewed as “veto-proof” and will take effect in January 2017. This law is a major victory for women and those who believe a healthy work-life balance is best for both employees and employers. “Paid parental leave increases the probability that employees will return to work, be more productive and earn higher wages,” Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, told The Los Angeles Times. “That is good for business and for families.”

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