Under Democrats' 4-week proposal, the U.S. would still be a global 'outlier' when it comes to paid leave

·2 min read

Democrats are now considering cutting the paid leave portion of their party's yet-to-be-passed trillion-dollar spending package from 12 weeks to four, meaning that, should a federal policy come to fruition, the U.S. — currently one of six countries in the world without any form of national paid leave — would still be an outlier, reports The New York Times.

Of the 185 counties that offer national paid maternity leave, "only one, Eswatini (once called Swaziland), offers fewer than four weeks," writes the Times. And of the 174 countries that offer paid leave for personal health reasons, only 26 offer four weeks or fewer.

A month-long policy "would also be significantly less than the 12 weeks of paid parental leave given to federal workers in the United States, and less than the leave that has been passed in nine states and [Washington, D.C.]."

"12 weeks is a modest amount, and anything less is grossly inadequate," UCLA Public Health and Public Affairs Professor Jody Heymann told the Times. "The rest of the world, including low-income countries, have found a way to do this." Globally, average paid maternity and paternity leave is 29 weeks and 16 weeks, respectively, per UCLA's World Policy Analysis Center.

The one facet of the current paid leave proposal that puts the U.S. "at the forefront internationally" is "its very broad definition of family and caregiving," notes the Times. The policy, if implemented, would cover care for "all types of loved ones," including in-laws, partners, and those who are the "equivalent" of family.

As to when this might come to pass, the White House is hoping to "reach at least a framework agreement with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)" on the spending package legislation — which will hopefully include a leave proposal — before the end of the month, if not sooner, writes Politico.

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