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The unintended conseqeunces of Hillary Clinton’s paid maternity leave proposal

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2016 | Gender Discrimination


The birth of a child is a life-changing event. As parents adjust to life with a newborn, most take parental leave. In the United States, some companies provide paid time off for new parents. But many offer limited paid time off – or no paid time off at all.

Paid parental leave – whether companies should be required to provide it – is a hot topic on the campaign trail.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has proposed a plan that would give mothers paid time off after the birth of a child.

Clinton’s campaign website details her plan: Offer 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to new parents, family members caring for a sick loved one or those recovering from a serious illness or injury. Those taking leave would receive at least two-thirds of their regular pay while on leave.

Does it sound too good to be true? It may be. As small businesses struggle to meet the demands of the plan if it is implemented, there may be unintended consequences. Let’s take a look at a couple of them.

Discrimination In The Hiring Process

What happens if employers are unable to afford paying the (full or partial) salaries of employees who are on parenting leave – in addition to the salaries of replacement employees?

The answer, in many cases, may result in discrimination against women in the hiring process.

Employers may purposely hire men instead of women of childbearing age in an effort to avoid potential future costs.

What Is The Current Law?

In most states, companies have discretion to provide parental leave benefits to employees. Additionally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take unpaid time off for specific family and medical reasons, such as caring for a newborn. California (along with Rhode Island and New Jersey) already offers paid leave to new mothers. Clinton’s plan would expand parental leave benefits nationwide.

What do you think about Hillary Clinton’s proposal to guarantee new mothers 12 weeks of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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