If you’re a freelancer who is planning a pregnancy or recently pregnant, you might be shocked to learn that the US has no comprehensive maternity or parental leave programs or policies. I know it’s unbelievable that in 2021 we still don’t have any federally mandated coverage for families to take time away from work after the birth of a baby.
The US is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have mandatory paid maternity leave or parental leave. According to this Pew Research article, among 41 countries the US ranks last when it comes to parental leave and is the only country that doesn’t have any mandated maternity or parental leave policies.
However, absent of a federally mandated policy, some states have their own Paid Family Leave insurance programs. That means at the state level employees contribute a small portion of each paycheck into the insurance fund. Paid Family Leave programs cover much more than just maternity or parental leave. These programs also can cover recovery from personal injury or illness, caring for a family member who is ill, while a family member is providing military service, and in some states time after leaving a domestic abuse situation. For self-employed people, some of the states have an option where you can “opt-in” and pay into the fund to receive benefits. Check out our Self-Employed Paid Family Leave Directory to see if your state offers this program.
If there aren’t any programs available for your state, or if you don’t qualify for your state’s insurance program then it’s up to you to plan your maternity or parental leave. I know it’s overwhelming to think about the logistics of taking time away from your career and business during pregnancy and new parenthood. We support freelancers every day at Fully Funded x 40 Weeks to create, self-fund, and implement a 3-6 month parental leave.
Get involved: Organizers are working hard behind the scenes to push Paid Family Leave through with President Biden’s Build Back Better initiative. Follow PL+US to get involved.