Newborn babies aren't for everyone, they're cute, and they're expensive. And those expenses become even more devastating when you consider that most new parents will not be earning a regular wage at the start of their child's life. In fact, a recent survey by insurance company Breeze found that a standard eight-week, unpaid maternity leave would drain the savings accounts of 74% of respondents.
Pollfish tracked 1,001 employed women aged 18 to 44, with the average answer of 7 representing no setback or significant, potentially permanent setback. Almost half, 49%, said they would consider transferring money from their retirement account to cover unpaid maternity leave expenses.
Unfortunately, these questions are far from hypothetical for the vast majority of Americans. According to MomsRising, a grassroots advocacy group, just 17% of Americans have access to paid family leave through their employer. And while the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows certain employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave, 40% of Americans are not actually covered since their employers are exempt from the FMLA.
When babies are born, we all need family and medical leave, as well as when family members become sick or we need time to recover from serious illness ourselves, according to MomsRising Senior Vice President Ruth Martin. Women in particular are particularly at difficulties financially when babies are born, because most of us do not have paid leave, and if we can't find child care at all, it's unattainable.
The Breeze survey indicates that short-term disability insurance may provide an answer that some families may not have considered, but that the vast majority of respondents believed that this should be resolved at a policy level, rather than an individual or employer level: 89% believed the federal government should offer some sort of paidmaternity leave, while 81% believed that the government should assist in ensuring that new parents get paid time off.
Martin says she believes that we are the only industrialized nation in the world that does not provide working people with paid family and medical leave, and that our economy, our families, businesses, and ourselves are all affected by the lack of it. She encourages Americans to contact their legislators in Congress to demand family leave at a federal level by signing the MomsRisings petition.
She concludes that no one should have to deplete her savings, deplete her retirement account, or die in depreciation because she becomes a mother.