OPINION: Paid parental leave crucial to all workers

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

Abbey columnist pic (1)

Silicon Valley may soon become a family-friendly suburb.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced his extended paternity leave to care for his newborn daughter. “Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post made on November 20.

Now, Zuckerberg is extending this valuable familial time to all Facebook employees, offering a four month paid parental leave. This offer is extremely progressive in the United States because for many working American parents, it’s not a reality. The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not mandate paid leaves for parents after the birth of a child. Though federal law does offer at least twelve weeks off, pay is not a required factor. In fact, according to the New York Times, only 14 percent on American companies offer paid leave. In comparison, European countries put American policies on parental leave to shame. Both Britain and Sweden offer a full year off to new parents with pay (mandated by law).

American legislation needs to change. Silicon Valley, the technology development hotspot of the country, is offering the sorts of benefits all American parents should be able to enjoy. In August, Netflix offered unlimited paid parental leave, pioneering the way for other companies to follow their lead. With Facebook in tow, expanding their benefits, other companies are likely to follow.

That being said, there are certainly other business that will not offer the benefits that all parents deserve. Facts and numbers aside, it ultimately comes down to a newborn baby and a mother and father who desperately care for it. American parents are stuck in a limbo on whether to stay home and bond with their child, or go back to work because they cannot afford to be without income to raise their baby.

America needs to join the rest of the developed world and show it cares about the hardworking families and the children fueling its future.