Mothers Deserve Better, and It Starts with a National Paid Parental Leave Policy
Moms (and all parents) deserve better.
In Spring 2021, articles and thought pieces about the great exodus of mothers from the workplace flooded my newsfeed. About 1.5 million mothers have left the workforce due to the pandemic and the pressure to balance their children, jobs, and homes. As I read each thoughtful word and rationale, I began to wonder about the continued pressure on new moms to choose between their new babies and a steady income.
Here's the reality.
Today, 1 in 3 Americans do not have access to paid family leave, including mothers after childbirth. As a result, 1 in 4 women returns to work just two weeks after giving birth.
I have three young children. While I was (relatively) lucky and able to take four months of partially paid maternity leave, I know that in week two I was physically and emotionally drained … and in absolutely no position to return to the office. It blew my mind that that is the expectation for so many new mothers in the USA.
"1 in 3 Americans do not have access to paid family leave, including mothers after childbirth."
Researchers have found that mothers who take shorter or no maternity leave are more vulnerable to postpartum depression. In addition, babies who don’t experience critical bonding time with both parents are less likely to grow up to become happy, independent, and resilient adults. Furthermore, and as we are currently seeing, workforce retention and morale are weakened.
Given these realities and their impact, why are U.S. mothers still without a national paid family leave policy?
The U.S. is one of the world’s wealthiest nations ... but offers no national paid parental leave program. Furthermore, U.S. is the only country among 38 nations that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents, according to the Pew Research Center and the OECD.
This is unacceptable. Moms deserve better.
According to an analysis conducted by KPMG, global businesses could save up to an estimated $19 billion annually through the provision of 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave. In addition, offering mothers a global return-to-work policy equivalent to a four-day week at full pay for their first six months back to work after maternity leave could save working mothers a cumulative $14 billion in childcare for their new babies. A four-day week would enable mothers to spend a cumulative 608 million additional days with their newborn babies.
While paid family leave has bipartisan support, and many are optimistic that Congress will pass a national policy this year, waiting for change is not an option for the mothers we serve with our products and resources - nor is it acceptable for us at Willow.
At Willow, we tackle injustices that mom faces every day by innovating and using technology to empower her to live free and untethered - whether that’s from being plugged into a wall while pumping, or from conventional opinions of motherhood. We’re taking a stand to support working parents by championing paid family leave. Because we know there is a better way, just as we knew there was a better way for mom to pump and created a new category of breast pumps.
" We’re taking a stand to support working parents by championing paid family leave. Because we know there is a better way, just as we knew there was a better way for mom to pump and created a new category of breast pumps."
So here's what we’re doing:
We have revised our paid family leave policy at Willow to support new parents. Our policy includes fully paid leave for 16 weeks for new moms and dads. In addition, we provide six additional weeks of four-day workweeks at full pay as parents transition back. We have also added extended bereavement time for parents who have experienced a miscarriage.
Willow has worked with our major investors, including Endeavour Ventures, Lightstone, NEA, and Meritech, to ensure that they have at least 12 weeks of fully paid maternity leave available for their employees.
Finally, Willow has aligned with PL+US, the leading national campaign to win paid family leave and medical leave for everyone, to help create the system and circle of support that all parents deserve. You can learn more about PL+US and how you can join forces with us here.
Today, new mothers are adjusting to a new normal as they also navigate the implications of the pandemic and new workplaces. The last thing she needs to worry about is how to make ends meet while caring for her new child.
Mom deserves better. And, it starts with a fair and adequate national paid family leave policy.
Written by: Laura Chambers, CEO Willow Innovations, Inc.