California Governor Looking To Give 6 Months Paid Parental Leave With Landmark Proposal

A new mother working while she comforts her baby
Yakobchuk Viacheslav / Shutterstock

Having a baby is a stressful time, especially if it’s one’s first child. There is plenty to look forward to but also many preparations that must be made before the new arrival makes their appearance. The work begins in earnest after the baby is born, with mothers needing to be on call 24/7 for their new infant for the first few months.

Sadly, maternal leave makes that very difficult for many women and even worse for their partners. With a limited amount available, many new parents have to return to work long before they are ready to do so, leaving their baby in the care of someone else.

The state of California is looking to change that, however. According to Bustle, newly elected governor Gavin Newsom has put forth a proposal that will offer parents with a new baby the chance to take six months of partially paid leave after welcoming their little one, which they can split between them as they choose.

At present, the state offers mothers six weeks of partially paid leave. Should they have good cause for it, though, they can also potentially take up to four months of disability leave — for which they could be partially paid.

Shockingly, California’s current parental leave policy is still the best in the entire United States, with a total of just six states offering any form of paid leave to new parents in current or proposed policies.

This is the policy in the U.S., while most of the rest of the world sends their new mothers home to rest and to bond with their baby in the first few months post-birth.

“Look, the whole world has this, except for the United States,” Ruth Milkman, a sociology professor, said. “This is not some Utopian proposal. In the U.S. it would be a breakthrough.”

Newsom hopes to roll out his new proposal starting this year, but in steps — and making use of existing state funds for the government subsidized leave. His current budget proposal predicts that the state will have a surplus of approximately $24.1 billion.

“It’s a developmental necessity,” Newsom said, adding, “We’re committed to this.”

At this stage, Newsom’s proposal offers a suggested 12-16 weeks of paid leave for the primary caregiver, which will likely be the baby’s mother, and 8-12 for the secondary caregiver — usually the father.

The issue is one many Americans believe should be a right for new parents, and many other nations within the developed world offer it to their citizens and residents. Unfortunately, because paid parental leave is not a requirement in the U.S., many states have no policy offering it to parents — and in those that do, the government must foot the bill for any amount of time the employer is unwilling to pay.

The United Nations’ International Labour Organization showed that over 10 years ago, “a third of its 167 member states offered at least 14 weeks of leave at a rate of at least two-thirds of previous earnings, paid by social security, public funds or in a manner determined by national law and practice where the employer is not solely responsible for payment.”