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On Maternity Leave and Work Culture in the US

I read three great pieces about parental leave and American work culture this week. All very much worth a look.

1.

Over at Forbes Magazine Francesca Donner bemoans the pitiful parental leave options in America as she trudges through the final days of pregnancy.

Highlight: “So while our friends across the pond in the U.K. are clocking up a year of time off and even more in Sweden (plus paternity benefits) I’m sitting here trying to portion out my days so that I don’t lose one minute with my baby once I make the shift from mum-to-be to mum. With just 12 measly weeks on the other side, I’m reluctant to take even one day in advance of my baby’s birth.”

Also in Forbes earlier this year, a brilliant breakdown of how lame America’s maternity leave policies are compared to just about everywhere else in the world. (There are charts, it’s depressing.)

2.

A Salon interview with Thomas Geoghegan, labor lawyer and author of Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life.  Geoghegan compares America and Germany in terms of economic growth, productivity and quality of life. Guess who comes out on top?

Highlight: “Compared to our German cousins across the pond, we work 1,804 hours versus their 1,436 hours the equivalent of nine extra 40-hour workweeks per year…. They have six weeks of federally mandated vacation, free university tuition, nursing care, and childcare…. [But] Aren’t we at least more productive by virtue of the amount of time we’re putting in? No.”

3.

Paula Bernstein’s Strollerderby piece on the debate over whether the British prime minister should take paternity leave. Paula argues that he should and that more men in America should have/take that option. A significant number of fathers actually qualify for paternity leave in the US, but very few take it for a number of reasons including, possibly, the rat race work culture described by Geoghegan in the interview I mention above!

Highlight: “Is staying home with a baby just not manly enough? It seems that we’re sending modern men mixed messages — they should change diapers and be an involved parent, but not if it means taking time off from their job.”

photo: Mcdittx/Flickr

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