Sex Equity in Parental Leave

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1 Response

  1. Joey Fishkin says:

    It seems to me that it is problematic to assume that all women who give birth are disabled from doing their jobs for 13 weeks. In reality there is a lot of variation. For some women it is considerably longer than 13 weeks; for some it is shorter. I’m not saying that personalized is always better than standardized; there’s a lot to be said for certainty for planning purposes and so on. But there is a real problem here: policies like this company’s policy clearly are smuggling in a large and illegal disparity in post-disability “bonding” leave — five days versus, sometimes, most of the 13 weeks — under the guise of a pregnancy disability regime.

    Suppose the pregnancy disability regime were to be revised, and made more realistic, so that it was tied more closely to the actual period of disability. What would happen then? Would we just see a massive reduction in benefits for birth mothers? Or would this change cause the relevant decision-makers to see that parents (perhaps especially birth mothers, but also adoptive parents, fathers, etc) need and deserve more than five days of parental leave? I would like to think that reducing this smuggling of bonding leave through what is ostensibly pregnancy disability leave would reconfigure the coalitions around these questions in a way that would make an expansion of paid parental leave more likely. But that may be an overly optimistic assessment.