Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Meena Rishi: Family leave makes economic sense

Testimony from Meena Rishi, Economics professor, Seattle University

For HB 5659 – Family Leave Insurance Bill

In most western countries parental leave is available for those who have worked for their current employer for a certain period of time.

In the UK, for instance, working mothers are given the right to 26 weeks of paid leave for each child, 6 weeks at 90% of full pay and 20 weeks at a fixed amount. An example of generous parental leave is Sweden, where all working parents are entitled to 18 months’ paid leave per child, the cost being shared between employer and State. To encourage greater paternal involvement in child-rearing, a minimum of 3 months out of the 18 is required to be used by the “minority” parent, in practice usually the father.

Norway also has a similarly generous leave. The system in Bulgaria is even more generous, providing mothers with 45 days 100% paid sick leave prior the due date, 2 years paid leave, and 1 additional year of unpaid leave.

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