American workers have notoriously terrible paid leave policies. Mention your scant 10 vacation days a year to a person from another country, and they will be flabbergasted. (In Europe even 20 days seems low.) When it comes to leave, vacation is unfortunately not the only thing we're short-changed on.
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Take a look at the figures for paid family leave access and the numbers are dire. According to a new report out from Paid Leave for the United States, 94% of low-income workers (who they define as making $30,000 a year or less), have no access to paid leave. None. In fact, one in four new mothers in the United States is back at work only 10 days after giving birth. The study also takes a moment to point out the fact that the U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate of the world's wealthy nations and that's definitely connected to our leave policies. As the study says, only "10 additional weeks of paid leave could reduce infant mortality rate by as much as 10 percent."
Additionally a lot of employees, who have paid leave options on the corporate level, do not offer the same benefits for hourly workers. For instance when it comes to maternity leave, "WalMarts 1.2 million hourly workers are only eligible for 6-8 weeks at partial pay (birth mothers only) if they work full time." Those at the corporate level are given 12 weeks full-pay. Starbucks does something similar: Corporate employees get 18 weeks of maternity leave and 12 weeks of paternity leave. Hourly workers get 6 weeks of maternity leave and no paternity leave. These discrepancies are mind-blowing.
Some companies are heading into a new, and more fair, frontier when it comes to paid leave options. A few of the stand-outs include IKEA, Nordstrom, Nike, and Levi's. Still there is clearly a long way to go before the playing field is leveled. You can learn much more about the state of paid-leave in the comprehensive report.