The advocacy group Human Rights Watch has released a report that criticizes the United States for its weak or nonexistent laws on paid leave for new parents.
The study, which is called Failing its Families: Lack of Paid Leave and Work-Family Support in the U.S., is based on a series of interviews with parents throughout America. The 90-page report revealed that parents who had little or no paid family leave after childbirth or adoption faced a variety of obstacles, including postpartum depression, health problems and a delay in baby immunizations.
Furthermore, some new parents who were not granted paid leave were forced to seek public assistance, while many families fell into debt. Several women told researchers that employer bias against working mothers derailed their careers.
"The U.S. is actually missing out by failing to ensure that all workers have access to paid family leave," said Janet Walsh, deputy women's rights director at Human Rights Watch. "Countries that have these programs show productivity gains, reduced turnover costs, and healthcare savings."
The report states that more than 178 counties have national laws guaranteeing paid leave for new mothers. America, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea were among a handful of exceptions.