The National Partnership for Women & Families is sending a message about a glaring issue in the United States with its latest PSA.
The PSA, titled “A Long Five Years,” features a fictional pregnant paralegal named Lauren who works at a law firm in Denver. She and her husband both work at companies that do not provide paid family leave, and they can’t afford to take time off. Unfortunately, Lauren’s husband had to use all of his vacation days caring for his elderly mother, so she’s doing her best to stock up on vacation and sick days.
Lauren has decided to stay pregnant until she accumulates enough paid leave to take care of her child. Right now, she’s at 260 weeks.
“It’s absurd that most U.S. workers – 86 percent – don’t have paid family leave through their employers,” the YouTube description for the video says. “And only some are lucky enough to live in the four states that have paid family and medical leave laws. But we can change this.”
The ad also notes that the United States is the only developed country that doesn’t have guaranteed paid parental leave across the nation.
“Millions of people like Lauren are being forced to choose between their health, families and jobs every day. The consequences for families, businesses and our economy are real. Lawmakers who claim to value families need to take a hard look at our nation’s truly absurd paid leave crisis, and commit to advancing a comprehensive solution,” Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, told AdWeek. “We shouldn’t accept an America where nearly one-quarter of new moms are back at work within two weeks of giving birth, or where an adult child who leaves the workforce to care for a parent forgoes an estimated $300,000 in income and retirement savings.”
Studies have shown that paid family leave benefits both parents and children. Paid parental leave can reduce infant mortality by as much as 10 percent and increase the likelihood of infants getting vaccinations. Children whose mothers took paid maternity leave may have higher education, IQ, and income levels, according to one study.
Moms who take more than 10 weeks for maternity leave have been shown to have less symptoms of depression and earn higher wages.
In one study, father who took paternity leave for 10 days or longer were more involved with their children and with child care activities than dads who took no leave. “Longer paternity leaves and increased time fathers spent caring for their very young children is associated with higher cognitive test scores for their children,” according to another study.