No ‘Family Values’: Rwanda and India Have Paid Parental Leave, the US Doesn't

Does a nation without paid parental leave really value its children?Tuesday was the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA allows for employees to have 12 weeks of unpaid leave when they have children or have a serious illness.

The FMLA is an important accomplishment, but the United States still lags behind most of the world — both rich, developed countries and even poor, developing countries — in offering guaranteed meaningful, paid parental leave to all employees.

Here’s a rundown of some other countries that have paid parental leave:

  • India: India, even with its extreme poverty, guarantees 12 weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child. The employee gets 100 percent of normal pay during this time.
  • Rwanda: In the poor nation of Rwanda, employees get one month of paid leave at 100 percent of pay.
  • France: As a rich developed country (but one still poorer than the United States), France offers 16 weeks of of paid leave (at 100 percent pay) for the first two children and 26 weeks for the third child. The French also get a compulsory six weeks before birth.
  • Sweden: Sweden has perhaps the world’s most generous paid parental leave policy, offering one year paid parental leave at an 80 percent rate.

Even with the meager FMLA protections we have, up to 40 percent of employees are not even eligible.

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