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Statutory Maternity Pay
The United States, even after several years of being in hot waters for not adhering to the standards of other first-world countries in providing statutory maternity benefits, still has not mandated companies to grant paid maternity leaves to their female employees. While the rest of the industrialized countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom are very supportive in terms of allowing women to spend some paid time off work to bond with their newborn baby, the U.S. has yet to listen to the requests of their female workforce.
Benefits of Statutory Maternity Pay
With a statutory maternity pay or SMP, a company will pay an employed pregnant woman for the number of weeks that she will not be able to report for work because she is due for delivery. However, because there is no national policy on maternity pay, the amount to be paid varies and would depend on what is mandated by the federal and state laws. States such as California have already taken a bold step to ensure the welfare of working moms by requiring companies to allow maternity leaves of up to 6 weeks while paying 55% of the regular salary.
Issue on Statutory Maternity Pay-Unpaid Leaves
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 permits expectant mothers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in order to care for a newborn child. In essence, it allows mothers to care for their newborn right after childbirth without worrying about keeping her employment. However, this does not exactly ease the worries of average income earners considering that for the duration of their time off work, they will not have any income to provide for their family.
Issue on Statutory Maternity Pay
Maternity benefits vary from company to company. Others offer wonderful maternity benefits while there are those that have little or no benefit at all. Based on a survey conducted by Working Mother Media Inc, about 24% of the best U.S. employers only provide four weeks or less of paid maternity leaves, approximately 52% provide six weeks or less paid leaves, while only 28% offer nine weeks or more of paid maternity leaves. If this is what the best companies can offer, it is difficult to think about what average companies can provide for working mothers.
Other Options in Lieu of Statutory Maternity Pay
Because there is no absolute guarantee that a company can grant you statutory maternity pay, there are other options available that, in certain states, can prove to be more beneficial. These are: short-term disability, vacation leaves, sick leaves, and personal days. Short-term disability or STD covers childbirth and can take care of a portion of your pay, but the number of days that can be used would depend on tenure as well as on who provides it; company, state, or insurance. The accrual of standard employee leave benefits and unpaid leave can also be used if the allowable STD coverage has already been used up.