A recent report by national organization Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US) analyzed paid leave policies from 35 major U.S. companies and found disturbing discrepancies between paid leave for corporate employees and hourly employees. Namely, 94 percent percent of low-wage workers (defined by the report as making $30,000 or less a year) have no access to paid family leave. Half of those were left seeking public assistance to off-set lost wages. Meanwhile, employees who made at least $75,000 a year were more than twice as likely to receive paid leave than their low-wage counterparts. And a quarter of new moms returned to work just 10 days after giving birth.
Even worse is that these stark differences between corporate and hourly workers would crop up again and again within the same company. For example, one company offers 18 weeks of paid maternity leave at the corporate level and no paid leave for field employees. And 13 of the 35 companies contacted by PL+US refused to publicly confirm their policies.
The report outlines several benefits of having paid time off policies, such as the 10 percent reduced infant mortality rate for moms who take an additional 10 weeks of paid leave. Another problem with the pressure to return to work after childbirth which the study doesn't address is the way it promotes competitiveness over productivity above self-care. Lena Dunham captured this idea in an Instagram post last year.
Wrote Dunham in the caption:
When we create a brutal work force in which suppressing self-care is rewarded and creating healthy work-life balance boundaries is punished, we're only upholding the systemic poverty, poor health, and discrimination against disabled folks which progressive companies claim to want to dismantle.