Paid leave pays off

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: access to money can protect women from abuse. A steady job offers not only income, but also protects against isolation, a powerful way abusers control their partners.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how workplaces support parents, probably because of my own preparation for baby #2 who is on her way. I am so fortunate to work for an organization that offers more leave than the law requires— some of it is even paid! This is a fantasy for many working moms-to-be. And yet, I still have to go back to work too soon and stress about both finding childcare and the financial burden that goes with it.

Imagine a place where new mothers (and often fathers) get ample paid leave when they have a baby, and childcare is available and affordable when it’s time to go back to work. Yeah, that place is called Germany, or Sweden, or Norway.  And while these are among the most generous places that offer paid leave, many countries throughout the world do.

The U.S. has recently been called out for our lack of support for mothers in the workplace. This is not good for any of us, but it especially affects those who are dealing with abuse in their relationships. Without enough paid leave, women risk losing their jobs, their income, their support network.

And parental leave isn’t the only factor. Paid sick leave and flexible work schedules have also been shown to benefit employers and employees alike and give critical help to those dealing with abuse. Let’s shift the way we think about jobs in this country and demand policies and practices that better support families.

3 thoughts on “Paid leave pays off”

  1. Amen, sister! I also want to point out that altho this issue primarily affects mothers, that is because women still bear the primary burdens (and joys) of caretaking in our culture: so it is women who most often must miss work or change schedules for their children’s or their elderly parents’ illnesses, doctors’ appointments, etc.(sandwich generation, anyone? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandwich_generation) However, I think we should keep in mind that caring for dependents isn’t women’s work, it is part of the human experience, and people of all genders have much to learn and much joy to experience in doing this work. That’s why PARENTAL leave is so important; everyone who parents should have a chance to bond with their baby; and babies should have chance to bond with everyone who parents them. We need to value caring/nurturing work and, in doing so, ensure everyone can participate in it. Parental leave is a start.

  2. I have never thought about the ability to work as it relates to abuse. I am a stay at home mom but I think it’s important for women to have the choice to work or stay home (men too, I’m not excluding stay at home dads). Inflexible work places make it difficult for many mothers to choose to work, while many families who would like to have a parent at home cannot afford to do that.

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