Theres something in the water. Every time I turn around, someone is announcing a pregnancy, revealing a babys gender with cupcakes or balloons, or posting pictures of her newborn on social media.
In discussing this apparent baby boom, my friends and I (all in our mid-20s) wind up talking about a topic often raised to defend against the supposed war on women: maternity and family leave. One of my friends, who recently gave birth to her first child, was given 12 weeks of unpaid leave. She used her vacation days and other benefits to supplement her income. Another friend discussed her companys policy, which does not include any paid time off. Still a third person at our table discussed her companys generous family-leave policy, one that allows either parent to take significant time off at full pay.
Supposed inadequacies in U.S. family-leave policies have been held up to show whats wrong with America. The lack of federally mandated leave is viewed as backward and evidence that women are mistreated in the workplace.
Last month a member of the D.C. Council introduced a bill to require that 16 weeks of fully paid family leave be offered to most part-time and full-time employees in the capital. This would include not just maternity leave, but also paternity leave and time off for personal or family illness.