Paid family leave is currently guaranteed in 178 countries. However, the U.S. joins nations like Somalia, India, and Sri Lanka in failing to provide paid leave for workers. With FMLA serving as the only workplace protection in place across many states, it’s important to mention that 40% of expecting mothers do not even qualify for these protections, leaving them with no guarantees of keeping their jobs let alone enough time postpartum to fully recover. The continued lack of a federal paid leave policy hurts more and more expectant mothers as an increasing amount of the workforce moves towards part-time and freelance work (which makes them even less likely to qualify for existing FMLA protections).
With that being said, more states are adding paid family and maternity leave guarantees for workers, with Colorado beginning their program in 2024, and Delaware, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota beginning programs in 2026. While even more state-led programs are expected in the future (in lieu of federal government action) millions of expecting and new mothers continue to fall through the cracks. Even worse for these mothers, the rising U.S. maternal mortality rate means new mothers are 10 times for likely to die due to pregnancy and postpartum complications than mothers in similarly high-income countries around the world. Not only does the lack of paid maternity leave create an economically impossible situation for many families, but in too many cases, the lack of paid leave is killing women.