Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump On Maternity Leave

by Elizabeth Broadbent
maternity leave
Kati Molin / iStock

As mothers, we all care about paid family leave. Either we’re working mothers taking time off, or we’re SAHMs hoping our partner can stay home as long as possible. As it is, only three countries in the world do not guarantee paid maternity leave: Papua New Guinea, Oman, and the United States. We have, instead, the unpaid Family Medical Leave Act, which offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during which the employee cannot be fired.

It’s the same leave my husband took when my mental illness took hold. During the birth of our last child, he used only two weeks of it. We couldn’t afford to be without income for any longer. I was suddenly two weeks postpartum, bleeding, and looking after three children 3 and under.

We need to reform maternity care. And we need to do it now.

Hillary knows it. As she said in May, “Too many moms have to go back to work just days after their babies are born. […] And too many dads and parents of adopted children don’t get any paid leave at all. […] None of this is fair at all to families.” Her plan would guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new baby or sick family member. “Paid leave” would mean at least two-thirds of their current wages “up to a cap.” Businesses, including small businesses, would not be required to pay for it. It would be funded by “making the wealthy pay their fair share,” i.e., taxing the rich.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CFRB) claims that all of Clinton’s proposals are $250 billion short over 10 years of being covered by her proposed tax increases.

Even Donald Trump knows that women need more help after childbirth. As he notes on his campaign site, according to the Department of Labor, “only 12% of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer.” The Trump plan would lump paid maternity leave into unemployment insurance, which would give mothers six weeks of paid leave (the amount they’d collect if laid off, according to the NYT, which varies wildly by state).

In the next paragraph, Trump says he would give six weeks of paid maternity leave, which would “cost $2.5 billion annually at an average payout of $300 a week.” He would offset this cost by changing the current UI system, eliminating waste and fraud. This would apply, according to Fact Checker, only to women who give birth.

On September 16, Hillary’s senior advisor for policy slammed his plan, saying that “We’re not living in a Mad Men era anymore where only women are taking care of infants. It’s completely unserious.” Moreover, the CFRB says his plan would cost about $30 billion a year — way off from Trump’s claims of $2.5 billion.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, is the only one against federally mandated maternity leave. When asked if “businesses [should] be required to provide paid leave for full-time employees during the birth of a child or sick family member,” he replied, “No, private businesses should decide the amount of competitive incentives they offer to employees instead of a government mandate.”

This is in line with basic libertarian tenets, which as the libertarian preamble says, “seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others […] without government interference. […] People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders.”

Basically every mother hates Gary Johnson for this one.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein, like all the other presidential candidates who aren’t Gary Johnson, supports paid maternity leave. When asked “Should businesses be required to provide paid leave for full-time employees during the birth of a child or sick family member?” she replied yes, but “the federal government should sponsor this program instead of businesses.” No details of her plan were available.

Marie Claire notes that Trump’s plan to give 6 weeks of paid maternity leave is literally half of Hillary’s 12-week offering. Hillary’s plan also covers paternity leave and adoptions. Under Trump’s plan, a gay couple who adopts would get zero paid leave, as would anyone else who didn’t actually push a baby from their body in some fashion.

Hillary’s plan is the most comprehensive, the most generous, and the most comparable to other countries in the world. I don’t know about you, but #ImWithHer.