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Paid Family Leave in Individualist America

It is no secret that the United States lags far behind other nations on their benefits for new parents. In fact, it is the only developed economy in the world that does not mandate some form of paid maternal leave for workers, and one of only nine OECD (the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) nations which does not have any policies in place for new fathers. Because the government is not making any changes on this front, many companies have recently been striving to change the norm in America about paid parental leave on their own terms. Facebook COO Sheryl Strandberg is taking it a step further, positing that companies should be offering paid leave to any employee with caregiving responsibilities—whether it be parenting, caring for a sick child or helping an ill parent. This raises interesting questions about a company’s obligations to its employees. At what point does a firm start and stop having a responsibility to compensate workers for leaves of absence? How does a company balance the potential financial burden of absent employees with allowing a healthy working environment?

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