This question we often ask expecting parents in the U.S. assumes they can take time away from their jobs to care for a new child. In reality, there is no federal guarantee of paid parental leave in the U.S., so many new parents are forced to make impossible choices between their financial stability and their families. The arrival of a new child isn’t the only time people need paid leave, as caregivers of seriously ill or injured family members, or anyone who has had to recover from a serious medical condition, can attest. What’s the difference between the various types of leave, who has access to what, and why?
We turned to two trusted experts, Brigid Schulte and Vicki Shabo of the Better Life Lab at New America, to untangle some of these knots. Read on for answers to common questions about how leave works in the U.S., how it compares to the rest of the world, and why a national paid leave policy is so important.
1. What is paid family and medical leave?
2. What determines whether you have paid family or medical leave in the U.S.?
3.How does the U.S. compare with other countries when it comes to paid family and medical leave?
4. How did the U.S. fall so far behind other countries when it comes to paid leave?
5. But the U.S. already has the Family and Medical Leave Act. Why isn’t it enough?
6. Who is most affected by the lack of a national paid leave policy?
7. Why is access to paid leave important?
8. Where do things stand with paid leave in the United States today?
9. What are the key policy questions lawmakers should consider?
10. What are good resources for learning more about paid leave?
11. What can people who care about this issue do to help?