Wednesday, September 3, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Obama says US should have paid maternity leave

Barack Obama, Lisa Rumain

President Barack Obama is introduced by Lisa Rumain of Martinsville, N.J., at The White House Summit on Working Families, Monday, June 23, 2014, in Washington. The gathering, organized by the White House, Labor Department and the Center for American Progress, highlights the challenges and offers solutions faced by working families in America. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

By
June 24, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States should join the rest of the industrialized world and offer paid leave for mothers of newborns.

“Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth – now that’s a pretty low bar,” Obama said at the White House Summit on Working Families. “That, we should be able to take care of.”

The president is touting paid maternity in the midst of a midterm election campaign focused on women voters, without describing the details of how he would fund such a system. “If France can figure this out, we can figure this out,” Obama said.

While some companies offer paid family leave to attract workers, the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act only requires that employers provide unpaid leave for medical and family reasons.

Obama praised California, Rhode Island and New Jersey for creating a state benefit. But he has not endorsed legislation that would create a similar national system funded by a payroll tax, and he pledged in his 2008 presidential campaign not to raise taxes on families making under $250,000 a year.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has introduced legislation that would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave through a fund in the Social Security Administration, paid for by contributions from employees and employers of 0.2 percent of wages. She said she has personally encouraged the president to back it, despite his tax pledge.

“We’re talking about 2 cents of every $10,” she said in an interview at the summit. She said without such a fund, eight out of 10 workers can’t take advantage of their right for family leave because they can’t afford it.

Obama instituted six weeks of paid leave for White House staff when they have a child, get sick or injured or need to care for an ailing family member, using his authority to set his staff’s compensation under the personnel code. He does not have the power to award paid leave to other federal workers without congressional action since they are covered under a different section of law. The White House has supported the goal of legislation introduced by lawmakers to change that, but it has stalled in Congress.

“There is only one developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave, and that is us,” Obama said. “And that is not the list you want to be on — on your lonesome. It’s time to change that.”

Obama took four working parents out to lunch at Chipotle before his speech and after met with business leaders with family-friendly policies. He encouraged other employers to have more flexible work schedules and directed federal agencies to expand flexible work arrangements where possible. He also urged Congress to pass legislation requiring employers to accommodate pregnant employees so they can continue to perform their jobs.

The president personalized the issues by talking about the struggles of his single mother and the challenges that he and his wife, Michelle, had when their children were young, even though they were fortunate to have benefits many workers don’t enjoy.

The president acknowledged he left his wife to carry the heaviest child care burdens while he worked and campaigned. He said he’s now lucky to “live above the store, so to speak,” so he can have dinner with his family most nights, and he points out his daughters were older when he became president. “I never had to meet a world leader with Cheerios stuck to my pants,” he joked.

The summit has been months in the making, with several regional events leading up to it featuring administration officials and a packed ballroom of political activists. The White House devoted all its star power to the event — and even a surprise appearance by a celebrity to echo Obama’s criticism of “Mad Men” policies in today’s workplace. Christina Hendricks, who plays single mom Joan on the AMC dramatization of a 1960s ad firm, said, “In the 21st century the only place for a story like Joan’s should be on TV.”

Mrs. Obama closed the summit by encouraging young women not to short-change themselves in career negotiations. And she said she hopes to see a woman in the country’s top job as president soon.

“That should happen as soon as possible,” she said. “We have some options, don’t we?”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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Discussion | 28 comments

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  • PatriotJune 24, 2014 - 6:39 am

    Why should males have to pay another tax? Only 2 cents per $10 dollars. More taxes to continue to whittle away our take home pay! Add all of the additional taxes this administration has added to all of us and you wonder why the middle class is continuing to die a slow death.

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  • PatriotJune 24, 2014 - 6:43 am

    He's "Above the store". He mocks hard working folks with his words he now uses. Let's see Hillary and Bill are poor and poor Barrack and Michelle are now in the "Pent house". Cry me a river Barry, you don't know how it is to be poor. I believe another "Executive Order" is going to be pulled out of his hat!

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  • PornacJune 24, 2014 - 7:38 am

    Sounds like a Family Values kind of proposal from Obama. Might cost something. Never mind.

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  • Larry WJune 24, 2014 - 1:00 pm

    Poor ca. Taxing family's further is not a family value. Many of us feel like the government is too involved in our lives and I am tired of paying for others benefits.

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  • SalJune 24, 2014 - 3:03 pm

    Why should males have to pay extra for a woman's maternity leave? Hello, you are half the cause of her condition, man up, or don't get it out of your pants. You play, you pay. Wish you could be the one carrying your child to term, how barbaric are you Patriot? Were you born of an ape or something? Was your dad a gorilla? Do you live on banana peels? Shame on you!

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  • Larry WJune 24, 2014 - 3:31 pm

    Sal. Why should you tax patriot or anyone else. The couple should work to provide their own benefits. You should not require their neighbor to pay for something that he or she may not want. Where does it stop. I think that transportation is a right and I want to tax you a little extra to provide the wheels of my choosing. It is only fair...I have a need and the government should meet all of my needs right?

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  • tax payerJune 24, 2014 - 6:00 pm

    Sal, seems to be you were born by an ape and live on the peels. Sounds like a good comeback by a good liberal.

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  • SalJune 24, 2014 - 7:03 pm

    Every civilized country in the world has a system to care for mothers and the young. Some European countries give up to five years of aid to ensure that a mother and child enjoy a healthy initiation into life. Only in America do red neck republican types who would sell their mothers to save a personal buck would denounce paid maternity leave. Shame on these asses.

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  • Larry WJune 24, 2014 - 7:42 pm

    Sal. The backward type is you. You are unable to debate a thought without resorting to name calling. If you want to donate to charities please feel free to do so. If you had not noticed that family's are burdened enough as it is. And as for myself I want to be known as an american. I do not look to Europe for guidance. So enlightened one, I have need of a new car. Will you provide it. Where does it end?

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  • http://www.suisunwaterfront.com/June 24, 2014 - 7:31 pm

    Allow HSA's to be used to cover lost wages during maternity. Those that plan to have children can certainly prepare ahead of time. No need to tax businesses that are already struggling. Problem solved.

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  • SalJune 24, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    163 countries in the world provide maternity leave with benefits. I guess we are not one of those backward countries. Central European countries have the longest parental leave regulations in the world regarding parental leave.[citation needed] In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, it is standard that mothers stay at home for 3 years after a child's birth, which may extend with additional children.[citation needed] Mothers can decide to take 2, 3, or 4 years of maternity leave. It is also possible for the fathers to take the leave instead of the mothers, but it is not common. For this whole period, mothers are supported by the state.[citation needed] In Slovakia, the standard duration of parental leave is 3 years; for a child with a disability, it is up to 6 years. The state pays support of 256 euros per month for the child's first 2 years, reducing to 164.22 euros per month thereafter.[citation needed] A similar model is also used in Austria, where mothers can choose between 1 and 3 years.[citation needed] Sweden provides working parents with an entitlement of 13 months paid leave per child at 77.6% of the employee's monthly salary (up to a ceiling of about $3,400 per month (2013)), the cost being shared between employer and the state.[5] In addition, parents also are entitled to an additional 90 days of leave at approximately $25 per day. Out of the total of 480 days paid parental leave, 60 days are reserved exclusively for each parent and are lost if not utilized. It should be noted that the paid days include weekends. Thus, 480 days is equal to about 16 months. Some Swedish political parties on the political left argue for legislation to oblige families to divide the 480 days equally between both parents.[6] Norway has similarly generous leave.[7] In Estonia mothers are entitled to 18 months of paid leave, starting up to 70 days before due date. Fathers are entitled to paid leave starting from the third month after birth (paid leave is however available to only one parent at a time).[8] In the UK, female employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity (or adoption) leave, 39 weeks of which is paid, planned to rise to 52 weeks paid, with the first six weeks paid at 90% of full pay and the remainder at a fixed rate (£136.78/week as of 2014).[9] Employees have to follow notification rules and might also be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, depending on their length of service and average earnings by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.[10] Most employers offer a more generous policy. Annual leave continues to accrue throughout the maternity leave period. A spouse or partner of the woman (including same-sex relationships) may request a two week paid (at a fixed rate) paternity leave.[11] Both the mother and her partner can additionally request non-paid parental leave, which can be for up to 4 weeks annually, with a current limit of 13 weeks.[12] On 13 November 2012, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced plans to reform the law in this area from 2015, enabling mothers and fathers to "share" parental leave. A consultation on this followed in March 2013. Employees have to follow notification rules and might also be entitled to statutory maternity pay (SMP), depending on their length of service and average earnings by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC), which is referred to as the qualifying week.

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  • SalJune 24, 2014 - 8:23 pm

    Of course if you're a local yokal from Fairfield you can't be expected to know about the rest of the world, right?

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  • Larry WJune 24, 2014 - 8:41 pm

    Sal. Well stated. It is wonderful to have all of these benefits. Can you also tell me what kind of tax rate that wage earners must pay. Many of those countries have tax rates at 40 percent or higher and on top of that they have the VAT tax. On top of all this the government debt of these nations as well as our own threatens to burden the next generation with a debt that will be difficult to impossible to pay. I believe that it is time to live within our means.

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  • JagJune 24, 2014 - 8:26 pm

    we should run as fast and as far away from anything Europe does because we all know what great job they have done universal health care, Sal your statement is correct (You play, you pay) with the key word being YOU as in you plan to pay YOUR bills while you are off, that is the American way ,,

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  • SalJune 24, 2014 - 8:36 pm

    Ah yes, the American way, highest incarceration rate, lowest health care index, highest gun violence rate.....who is Europe to compete with the greatness of our capitalist state!

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  • Salty DogJune 24, 2014 - 9:17 pm

    Sal. If america is so backwards and so redneck Republican why do so many illegals want to come here I guess it is for all the stuff they get and if you are so in love with Europe why dont you move to Europe. Could it be that you all ready have it to good here in America. And yes we all ready have paid maternity leave for all the women that are on welfare that do not have the fathers in the picture. YES IF YOU WANT TO HAVE KIDS YOU NEED TO PLAN TO PROVIDE FOR THEM NOT HAVE SOMEONE ELSE HELP PAY FOR THEM. With you being the good little liberal that you are if you want to help by all means feel free to pay more in taxes. Just dont demand that I pay more in taxes because I all ready do.

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  • BJJune 24, 2014 - 8:39 pm

    Sal, I could not have said it better! We are a gun toting, greed filled, dog kill dog land of the pure! Take our food away, take our healthcare away, we say nothing. But take our guns away, and feed the poor, never! Life, liberty and happiness.....one nation under Greed! Hail America. We have more guns than all of Europe combined, one of the world's largest murder rate, yet these nuts feel superior to the rest of the world.

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  • Larry WJune 24, 2014 - 8:47 pm

    BJ. I love it when I get called greedy when I simply want to spend what I have earned, after taxes, as I will. The greedy people are those who look at what their neighbor has an then wants to take it.

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  • JagJune 24, 2014 - 9:13 pm

    Hey Guys, Pierce Morgan of CNN talked about guns every night on his show and do you know where he is now…? Not on the air …LOL we can talk about this all day but here is the deal,, Your Man Obama will never get this thru in the next few months and come November when Republication/RINO take back the senate he will have nothing but Republication bills laying on his desk.

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  • BJJune 24, 2014 - 9:19 pm

    Hillary 2016!

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  • SalJune 24, 2014 - 9:27 pm

    Amen!

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  • Salty DogJune 24, 2014 - 9:48 pm

    Ya Sal another poor Democrat running for office.

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  • Larry WJune 24, 2014 - 9:33 pm

    Maybe. But I think that she is too poor.

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  • JagJune 24, 2014 - 9:36 pm

    Maybe, but I think Elizabeth Warren will run and beat her for the nomination on the democratic side, with that said we still have that little time frame from 2014 to 2016 with RINO in charge and the tea party having just enough hold on them that Bob will now be the do nothing president.

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  • SalJune 24, 2014 - 10:54 pm

    They said Obama would never win. If history is testimony, we will have our first woman President in 2016.

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  • JagJune 25, 2014 - 10:11 am

    yes sir I never denied that, I just don't think it will be Clinton

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  • BJJune 24, 2014 - 9:14 pm

    So you're comparing those who want to give women paid maternity leave to Al Qaida? lol.....welcome to FF where the collective IQ is zero!

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  • Mr. SmithJune 24, 2014 - 9:46 pm

    No, BJ. I'm comparing the people who think like you to Al Queda--at least to the extent that your anti-American sentiment would be comforting to those barbarians. That, and the fact that they probably get the false impression that most Americans are as...um, brilliant as you are.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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