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Is “maternity leave” justified?
Posted: 02 September 2013 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I thought I’d never agree with anything on Fox News, but surprise, surprise.

http://www.upworthy.com/this-radio-show-host-makes-sense-maternity-leave-is-a-ridiculous-concept-oh-wait-2?c=upw1

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Posted: 03 September 2013 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I don’t agree with the tone of the comment but there is some truth to what he said.

There is a cost to maternity leave. Either the employer has to bear it or the employee has to bear it. I am not sure its entirely fair to make the employer bear the cost of a decision that the employee made. That cost is then passed on by the employer to other employees ( ie. there will be concessions made in other areas in order to give extended maternity leave) as well as consumers. So men and non-pregnant employees will be giving up something so that those who decide to have a baby can take time off. I am not taking sides here, its just a fact of economics. There is no magic. If you give to one person you have to take from someone else.

If the cost of maternity leave is distributed widely enough so that we bear the cost as a society it might be reasonable assuming there is a benefit that society receives in return ie. better adjusted children, more stable families, healthier children etc.  The question is whether that has ever really been established and at what point do the returns on maternity leave diminish? Is it wise to require 4 weeks leave or 4 months? I think a lot of the claimed benefits of extended maternity leave is really wishful thinking without the facts to back it up. If you can find some solid data let me know. I couldn’t find any consensus in the studies I looked at.

Evidence from Maternity Leave Expansions of the Impact of Maternal Care on Early Child Development

Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates


I would guess that current maternity leave policy has been largely determined primarily by the needs of the employers to attract a skilled workforce. If they need intelligent well trained women then it probably benefits them to offer a generous maternity package. Businesses that don’t depend on women as much will give only what the law requires and the law is not based on science. Its based on politics.

My wife was given less than four weeks leave for each of our children We both would have preferred that she had much more time to spend with them but unfortunately that’s all the system allowed. I think the the demand for maternity leave is really driven more by parent’s wants than children’s needs.

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Posted: 03 September 2013 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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macgyver - 03 September 2013 11:11 AM

I don’t agree with the tone of the comment but there is some truth to what he said.

There is a cost to maternity leave…..... I think the the demand for maternity leave is really driven more by parent’s wants than children’s needs.

Mac, is there anything wrong with systems or laws or rights being based on what parents want?  What’s wrong with that?
Do laws or systems have to be based on either science or politics exclusively?  Can’t laws/systems be based on compassion and comfort?
Does everything have to be broken down into the most streamlined, cost-effective, science based, cold calculations?

I’m all for it.
It should also be paid for by the employer/govt. 2-4 months paid maternity leave.
This could be wonderfully offset by eliminating tax breaks and deductions for families with more than 3 children. Possibly instituting tax increases for families with more than 5 children.
Yes.  Let’s get cold and calculating. I’m all about social engineering.

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Posted: 03 September 2013 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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VYAZMA - 03 September 2013 11:31 AM
macgyver - 03 September 2013 11:11 AM

I don’t agree with the tone of the comment but there is some truth to what he said.

There is a cost to maternity leave…..... I think the the demand for maternity leave is really driven more by parent’s wants than children’s needs.

Mac, is there anything wrong with systems or laws or rights being based on what parents want?  What’s wrong with that?
Do laws or systems have to be based on either science or politics exclusively?  Can’t laws/systems be based on compassion and comfort?
Does everything have to be broken down into the most streamlined, cost-effective, science based, cold calculations?

I’m all for it.
It should also be paid for by the employer/govt. 2-4 months paid maternity leave.
This could be wonderfully offset by eliminating tax breaks and deductions for families with more than 3 children. Possibly instituting tax increases for families with more than 5 children.
Yes.  Let’s get cold and calculating. I’m all about social engineering.

Of course we can do that but if we are going to create a special group of people that are going to get a perk like that then the issue of fairness must be considered. if we created a law that required employers to give extra vacation to everyone with surnames of 4 letters or more I don’t think it would get much support. In this case we are singling out a very sympathetic group and giving them an added benefit that no one else gets and everyone else pays for.

I am not saying we can’t do that but I am saying that we should now and then look at the rationale behind the things we are doing. The plain fact is we are doing this because it makes us feel warm and fuzzy whereas we don’t get that same feeling if we give someone a month or two off for an activity like taking care of an elderly parent, or visiting a husband who is in jail, or helping a child with a drug addiction, or repairing our home after a storm damaged it or just taking the family on vacation. There are a million reasons someone might like to have an extra month vacation now and then but we don’t provide the same benefit in most cases. Why do so for the birth of a child if it really doesn’t help the child or the greater society in any way?

P.S. - in case you haven’t figured it out after all this time I love playing devil’s advocate. It gets me in a lot of trouble because people automatically assume I am an advocate for the ideas I am presenting, but I think it’s important to force people to think about things they otherwise wouldn’t now and then.

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Posted: 03 September 2013 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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On your Devil’s Advocacy-

Before I address your latest post, I have to say that upon reading this latest bit from you I literally found myself saying,
“I can’t remember when MacGeyver turned so Conservative.” You were always kind of centrist with a good dash of progressiveness, but lately….?

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Posted: 03 September 2013 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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P.S. - in case you haven’t figured it out after all this time I love playing devil’s advocate. It gets me in a lot of trouble because people automatically assume I am an advocate for the ideas I am presenting, but I think it’s important to force people to think about things they otherwise wouldn’t now and then.

Whew! I’m glad to read this disclaimer Mac as I’ve always found you to be the voice of reason on the forum. And NEVER did I find myself agreeing with Megan Kelley on any issue until now. I have no problem with maternity leave especially for women, although as she stated under FMLA a man may take time off to tend to a new born. The key here is that it is UNPAID leave. All the act does is hold the position for the employee. So while on leave the employer doesn’t have to shell out any pay for no work, unless the employer chooses but that’s not likely to happen. In our case a substitute is hired while the monther is on leave and the typical amount of time off is six weeks on average. As it now takes a double income to sustain a middle class living, taking more time than that can seriously jeopardize your lifestyle. It’s also a very short time period to make personal adjustments for the new addition such as day care for the child (super expensive if grandma is still working) while the mother goes back to work. Megan may not have to worry about that but the majority of us had to and in most cases still do, e.g. When our first child was born my wife stayed home to take care of him and on my teacher’s salary we qualified for food stamps. I took a second job just to pay the bills. So, yes I’m in favor of maternity leave.


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Posted: 03 September 2013 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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macgyver - 03 September 2013 12:11 PM

Of course we can do that but if we are going to create a special group of people that are going to get a perk like that then the issue of fairness must be considered. if we created a law that required employers to give extra vacation to everyone with surnames of 4 letters or more I don’t think it would get much support. In this case we are singling out a very sympathetic group and giving them an added benefit that no one else gets and everyone else pays for.

Aren’t there plenty of other special groups who get added perks?  After all as you mentioned, some women(like that FOX news reporter..) get paid maternity leave.
So there’s a special group right there.  Professional women or men who are lucky enough to work at a place that offers paid maternity leave.
Now you can counter that that is because they were rugged individuals who clawed their way to the top and deserve those extra perks, but it still leaves open the fact that they feel entitled to paid maternity leave. It still leaves open the possibility that it is something that pregnant mothers would appreciate and could probably
use in that important time.  After all the elite professionals and higher end careers have it…it must have some value.
Some people get workers compensation pay and benefits.  It’s not based on the number of letters in their surname, it’s based on a medical fact-just like pregnancy.

I am not saying we can’t do that but I am saying that we should now and then look at the rationale behind the things we are doing. The plain fact is we are doing this because it makes us feel warm and fuzzy whereas we don’t get that same feeling if we give someone a month or two off for an activity like taking care of an elderly parent, or visiting a husband who is in jail, or helping a child with a drug addiction, or repairing our home after a storm damaged it or just taking the family on vacation. There are a million reasons someone might like to have an extra month vacation now and then but we don’t provide the same benefit in most cases. Why do so for the birth of a child if it really doesn’t help the child or the greater society in any way?

Yeah, I agree.  All people should have more time off.  Lot’s of it should be paid time off. Lot’s of it isn’t though.
Lot’s of Americans don’t know their rights in the workplace either…like the FMLSA Laws on the Federal Books for example.  Which cover maternity leave or caring for sick family members.  Of course we Americans don’t get paid for that usually.  Unless the place you work for has a generous sick leave compensatory program.
And all Americans should get more paid holidays.  See the recent thread on CEO compensation.
I’m not joking either.  America is the Last Great Refuge of the Huckster, the Schlub,  the worker who is led to believe it is a privilege to work for their employer.
This is huge!  It could take pages and pages to describe and explain.  That is a root problem with the Country and the economy in my opinion.
And it leads to friggin’ scumbags like the guy in the Faux News Video who make it all seem normal that people are out of line when they ask for perks or
comforts.
That people are lazy and ungrateful when they try to get fair compensation.
That if you don’t like it, you can flip-off because we can replace you with another programmed automaton.
That it’s not American to ask for hand-outs.  You should take what they are offering and shut your mouth!
Who is really getting the hand outs?  See the CEO compensation thread.  It’s the greatest con game ever devised.

P.S. - in case you haven’t figured it out after all this time I love playing devil’s advocate. It gets me in a lot of trouble because people automatically assume I am an advocate for the ideas I am presenting, but I think it’s important to force people to think about things they otherwise wouldn’t now and then.

I didn’t realize that.  And I do see both sides of the coin.
I’m not among my peers Mac.  I’m not with my base. I’m surrounded by reactionaries and conservatives
85-90% of my waking hours.

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Posted: 03 September 2013 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Being that the US is the only advanced country with “unpaid” maternity leave a question comes to mind.

How do all these other countries that do have “paid maternity leave”  make this work?
Is there some kind of requirement that the US must set this up from scratch?  What is the shame in studying and adopting the way everyone else does it?

Most developed countries have single payer health care, 4 week vacations,  and seem to be able to make it work. What are they doing that we seem unable to do?

We have the greatest disparity in incomes and growing. The stock market is going through the roof. But lo, a company just cannot afford hiring a temp to fill in for the one thing that keeps a country populated and provides a stable supply of workers.

Our economic woes do not stem from “maternity scams”. It lies in the speculation of the richest, for which that expectant mother is paying taxes. But no, the country will fall apart when we install these basic universal health care services. Why does congress enjoy all these little perks, while the productive labor force is squeezed into virtual slavery.

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Posted: 03 September 2013 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Write4U - 03 September 2013 02:56 PM

Being that the US is the only advanced country with “unpaid” maternity leave a question comes to mind.

How do all these other countries that do have “paid maternity leave”  make this work?
Is there some kind of requirement that the US must set this up from scratch?  What is the shame in studying and adopting the way everyone else does it?

Most developed countries have single payer health care, 4 week vacations,  and seem to be able to make it work. What are they doing that we seem unable to do?

We have the greatest disparity in incomes and growing. The stock market is going through the roof. But lo, a company just cannot afford hiring a temp to fill in for the one thing that keeps a country populated and provides a stable supply of workers.

Our economic woes do not stem from “maternity scams”. It lies in the speculation of the richest, for which that expectant mother is paying taxes. But no, the country will fall apart when we install these basic universal health care services. Why does congress enjoy all these little perks, while the productive labor force is squeezed into virtual slavery.

I hate to quote myself, but this cannot be overstated:
America is the Last Great Refuge of the Huckster, the Schlub,  the worker who is led to believe it is a privilege to work for their employer.
This is huge!  It could take pages and pages to describe and explain.  That is a root problem with the Country and the economy in my opinion.
And it leads to friggin’ scumbags like the guy in the Faux News Video who make it all seem normal that people are out of line when they ask for perks or
comforts.
That people are lazy and ungrateful when they try to get fair compensation.
That if you don’t like it, you can flip-off because we can replace you with another programmed automaton.
That it’s not American to ask for hand-outs.  You should take what they are offering and shut your mouth!
Who is really getting the hand outs?  See the CEO compensation thread.  It’s the greatest con game ever devised.

I’m telling ya right now Write!  That’s why.  That’s exactly how this country evolved.  There was a brief period progressivism, but that was stymied in a handful of decades.
It was stymied by the original forces of American Capitalism(that is singularly unique in history and place).
It’s no surprise that the rallying call of the reactionaries and conservatives harken back to the Founders and Individualism and Liberty.
All of this can be used to great effect to control just enough of the commoners to stifle the resurgence of progressivism.
Just the one phrase: Americans are led to believe that their place at work is a privilege, it’s a job that was benevolently bestowed upon them by their benefactors.
Just that phrase.  Take that and extrapolate from there.  That’s everything in a nutshell!!
And by everything, I mean everything!  The poor approval rating of politicians in general.  The fact that we spend 50% of our treasure on weapons.
The fact that half the people have no health care.
You have to understand that the crux of this is that most people are led to believe that their place in the economy(ie a job) is a privilege bestowed upon them
by higher forces, benefactors.  The benefactor being unfettered capitalism.  Growth for the sake of profit.

[ Edited: 03 September 2013 03:19 PM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 03 September 2013 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I guess it just all comes down to what we are willing to pay for Ultimately we all pay for the perks that others get. If the majority opinion is that women should have 4, 8 , 12 weeks maternity leave or whatever we choose than that is something I can live with. I just think we need to be fair to everyone and not treat maternity leave as though it is somehow in a class by itself. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to have a certain amount of paid hardship or medical leave which would be enough to cover 3 pregnancies but men and others who don’t get pregnant could use it for other family emergencies or even just “mental health” time.

There is one caveat though. There is no free lunch as they say. I think its important when we decide these things that people realize we all have t be willing to pay for what we want. If you work less someone has to pick up the slack and if we all work less then we all will have to be willing to earn less. We can’t be less productive and expect to still be compensated at the same level. I wish we could but on a national level you can’t have 300 million people work a few weeks less every year and pay them the same since production will decrease.

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Posted: 03 September 2013 08:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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is maternity leave included under overall family leave?

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Posted: 04 September 2013 03:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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macgyver - 03 September 2013 04:24 PM

If you work less someone has to pick up the slack and if we all work less then we all will have to be willing to earn less. We can’t be less productive and expect to still be compensated at the same level. I wish we could but on a national level you can’t have 300 million people work a few weeks less every year and pay them the same since production will decrease.

This is ridiculous. It’s not that simple.

[ Edited: 04 September 2013 04:36 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 04 September 2013 03:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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skuld - 03 September 2013 08:26 PM

is maternity leave included under overall family leave?

Family and Medical Leave Act
Overview
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to:
Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/

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Posted: 04 September 2013 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I agree with maternity leave in general, but I have no idea how long it should last for.

It’s better then new mothers bringing the babies to work, though.

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Posted: 04 September 2013 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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mid atlantic - 04 September 2013 05:10 AM

I agree with maternity leave in general, but I have no idea how long it should last for.

It’s better then new mothers bringing the babies to work, though.

For decades, workers, especially men, have been able to take extended unpaid leaves from their jobs while the job is held for them. This includes military leave and medical leave, such as for heart attacks and heart surgery, other kinds of surgery and to recover from accidents (more likely among men). But when it was suggested that WOMEN get similar kinds of leave for pregnancy and childbirth, and to care for family members, suddenly people were up in arms about how it will ruin industry and society in general.

There is little cost to allowing unpaid leaves. The specific job doesn’t even have to be held open, only that a similar job be offered upon the worker’s return. 

Women have historically stepped up to the plate to do the work men have taken leaves from.  Men in the military have been the most notorious example.  During WWII, women by the thousands did men’s jobs and did them well, and at far less pay! But when the men returned from service, they got their jobs back and the women were summarily laid off. There were few complaints about this turn of events at the time. This was seen as a necessity at the time but somehow too few people think unpaid leave for pregnancy is a similar necessity. To extend a sentiment about abortion, “If men could get pregnant maternity leave would be a sacrament.”

But when it was decided to give women unpaid leave for pregnancy, suddenly it is seen as too much of a burden to industry and society.

Somehow there is nothing like giving women their due to get people riled up over something that has been going on for decades for men with no serious opposition.

Lois

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Posted: 04 September 2013 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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VYAZMA - 04 September 2013 03:53 AM
macgyver - 03 September 2013 04:24 PM

If you work less someone has to pick up the slack and if we all work less then we all will have to be willing to earn less. We can’t be less productive and expect to still be compensated at the same level. I wish we could but on a national level you can’t have 300 million people work a few weeks less every year and pay them the same since production will decrease.

This is ridiculous. It’s not that simple.

It is much simpler than people want to believe. the whole concept of money allows people to believe there is some sort of magic wherein you can work less or not at all and still live a good life.

money is just a symbolic representation of goods and labor. If a society as a whole works less and all other things are equal ( ie. no new technology comes along that makes them more productive) then by definition they will produce less. If we were all farmers then it would mean there would be less food. If we were all cobblers then there would be fewer shoes. If we were on a barter system we would have fewer food and shoes to trade with each other. Because we are on a monetary system this is all a bit “behind the curtains” so people forget how the machinery actually works, but it works exactly the same way. If we all work less and produce less there is less money to go around. If I work less I either have to get paid less or someone else has to pick up the slack for me.

Some people might argue that the government could subsidize the extra leave but we all pay the taxes that finance the government so in the end its the same thing. we could also argue that the company should pay the bill but again we are hiding behind the curtain that money creates. The company has to make a profit so if employees are working less and they pay them the same they will either have to raise prices ( because their product costs more to produce) or lower quality and again we all are in a sense getting paid less since our money doesnt go as far.

Money just makes this all less obvious but the same math applies as if we were peasant farmers.

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