I was 100% like the male students until fairly recently when my girlfriend and I started having serious conversations about having children. The conversation was something like this. her: "What does your employer offer for maternity leave?" me: "lol idk." And then I got a pretty stern look. In the US the only legal guarantee you get is that you can leave for 12 weeks unpaid and you'll probably still have a job when you get back. There is zero guaranteed paid leave. It's completely shameful and it's a stone age policy compared to the rest of the Western world . It's also something I think the typical HN reader hasn't spent much time thinking about so I'm glad to see this on the front page.
It's still complicated though. I took paternity leave last year in CA and it was like this: there's a 7-day waiting period, so the first week was straight PTO. Then PFL pays 55% of salary up to I think $1k/week, so you make up the difference with partial PTO. That can go on for up to 6 weeks; if memory serves I took 4 weeks total off.
All in all not terrible. I realize I'm fortunate to live in CA where there is a PFL policy, and to work for a company that's with-it enough to process these claims quickly and competently. I truly feel for others like the woman in the article.
Of course it's all trade-offs, but the US is a long ways from most similar countries in this respect, and I can see people getting frustrated with it. In many places there are reasonable options to manage a combined year of parental leave, for example.
Canada for example offers 50 weeks (wow!) of 55% pay (uh oh) with a 2 week waiting period (ooo..) up to a max of $501/week (eek). Costa Rica gives women 4 months at 100% (yay!) but only 3 days for fathers (boo). Japan is 14 weeks 60%, nothing for fathers. Examples are many at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave
It's certainly one area nobody's really solved since women joined the workforce.
1 year 100% or 2 years: 52 weeks 70% and 52 weeks 40% (either mother or father can take it or take the leave in shifts)
And you could even do Like this:
1 Year Mother 100 %, next Year Father 100 % - awesome, right?
It's not just about pay either, but about what security (if any) someone has after maternity or paternity leave. In practice, I think you'll fund the in the U.S. This is much harder to do, not just compared to Canada, but to most of Europe.
Which is exactly what you were talking about, so I don't see a problem. And like I said, some states go above and beyond.
> It's not just about pay either, but about what security (if any) someone has after maternity or paternity leave [...] in the U.S. this is much harder to do
Not at all, that's precisely what the federal FMLA is for. 12 weeks of job-protected leave. No payment unless covered by something else (PTO, company policy, state law, etc), but it is 3 months of job-protected leave.
I know what FMLA is for, I'm saying that compared to many places, that is not much protection. You picked a couple of places out of that wikipedia page, but on the short end. What about Sweden's 13 months at 75% or so, or Englands year?
Anyway, I'm not saying one approach is wrong, as it is all trade-offs. I'm just saying that this is made much more difficult in the US than in a lot of comparable countries, and I think that is pretty uncontroversial.
Indeed a tough problem.
Just had my first child and I only managed to get 5 days from the company, they were nice enough to throw in 2 additional days to my 3 days. To at least make it a week.
There's a bit of a caveat to the women's 4 months, those 4 months start by law 1 month before the child is scheduled to be born and continue for 3 months. We would have preferred more time after the birth and less time before.
"... In 2006 Intel's microprocessor facility alone was responsible for 20% of Costa Rican exports and 4.9% of the country's GDP...."
So from 4 weeks before birth to 6 weeks after, you can also get 55% of salary, up to $1,075/week. Then you can take on the additional 6 weeks of paid family leave.
For all of the tremendous focus on so-called family values in the United States, it seems that what is usually meant has something to do with sex. If only all of that energy could be focused on serious policy problems like this one.
not that i agree with such policy. Yet logically i can see the other side of that - why encourage people to spend their time and effort during the most productive years of their life on basically their personal sideprojects - children - instead of contributing to the economy when US can "import" through immigration any kind of people they want - from toddlers to ready-made programmers to almost ready-made doctors - thus saving a lot of societal resources which otherwise would need to be spend to bring up and educate such a person (add the risk that not every child becomes a highly productive member of society and some even become a burden like go to prison). Basically the same logic why iPhone is built in and imported from China :)
 e.g. http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/09/02/baby-boom-or-e...
But I definitely think you could make it work. Hypothetically, not humanely.
I think it is selfish for new parents to demand all this time off, you were hired to do a job, do it, if you can not or unwilling to because you have made a choice to make a major change in your life then i am sure someone else will be happy to get paid do to your job.
You may believe it's selfish for new parents to demand time off. I believe it is selfish for people who are more fortunate than others to not contribute more tax and help lift those below them when they're in need.
If an employer wants to have 1 day, or 365 days off that is up to them, that is part of your compensation package you should evaluate when you agree to take a job.
Just like I believe it is a responsibility of those with money to help those with out. That does not translate in to supporting the use of government violence to forcing people to give up money, nor does that mean I support the creating of terribly inefficient government programs to manage, regulate, or dispense said benefits or money
As to the topic at hand, if a private business owner desires to offer their employee time off for child bearing more power to them, it is not the business of government however to force that on said business owner.
To sum up with an example though: a few elections ago I voted for the political party who had stated that they would raise my taxes (in particular, the bracket I get paid in). I did so because I consider myself very fortunate to work in a clean ventilated office, and sit at a desk solving programming problems. I don't think it's because I'm hard working, or diligent, or anything like that. At least, no more so than the dude outside logging bags of concrete around
I think it's because I was lucky enough to be brought up in a culture where I "fell" into this situation (pressured to do well in high school, brought up around computers with a passionate father, taught to program when I was 10, going to uni was a no-brainer and couldn't be any other way, etc). Other people aren't so lucky, and it would be height of hubris for me to think any other way.
(edit: quick note: I live in NZ, not the US. My opinions aren't particular controversial here)
"It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.
People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we’re compassionate we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint."
-- Penn Jillette
Accomplishing the same goals with out government overhead would cost a fraction in real dollars than with the nightmare that is government bureaucracy
But some people still try to say it's huge, without any proof other than what they've heard on talk radio.
If you believe that I have some nice beach property I think you would be interested in.
Government through out history has been the engine of discrimination. The only legal way to abuse and harm a social group you do not like is by regulatory capture. Government for hundreds of years has been used to socially engineer society they way those in power desire it to be. From Marriage laws, to who qualifies for welfare.
It is the epitome of ignorance to state that government is the best method to help those that "do not fit well into community norms"
Yes, it is bullying. That's the only complaint in that quote that makes any sense.
Many(most) people have this entitlement mentality where by government, society, employers "owe them".
Employment is simply you selling your labor to the highest bidder. Company X needs Y labor done for them, you have the ability to perform that labor so you agree to a wage where by said labor gets done.
Nothing more. It is not a "family" you are not entitled to a job, or benefits of any type.
As for government, the only function government has is to prevent aggressive actions against me and my property and to provide a peaceful method of conflict resolution (aka courts)
It is not to inject itself in to the voluntary agreements of me and my employer, or anyone else.
To think government was the reason for any of things you site it ignorant is best.
You really need to study history more.
Its like you give a patient poison and then when he gets more sick you say "You see how much you really needed my medicine".
Lets say we do wanna study the effect of Government on Great Depression, what would be the falsifiability criteria for that?
Also as a single 38 year old man with no desire to have kids, I'm glad other people do. I'm happy for my (Australian) tax dollars to support them.
(1) Most companies provide better benefits than what is legally required
(2) The US has a robust and very expensive welfare system
(3) Unlike something like cancer pregnancy is not an accident. If you can't afford to pay for children, don't have them.
FWIW most tech companies provide very generous benefits, though I'm pretty sure it's only possible because a lot of employees never take advantage of them. (Most programmers aren't having a dozen kids)
Cool, let's just bank on the generosity of companies.
> Unlike something like cancer pregnancy is not an accident. If you can't afford to pay for children, don't have them.
Did you even read the article? These people can obviously afford to have children. They can't afford to become unemployed because they had children. Short of being independently wealthy or raiding your personal savings, no one can afford to become unemployed for an extended period of time because they're raising a child.
Let's not even get into the fact that this is obviously disproportionately affecting women. I don't need to take sick leave because my wife gave birth - I don't have anything to physically recover from.
Because banking on the generosity of the government works so well for people. I'm suggesting precisely the opposite of this. Rather than everyone seeing themselves as victims maybe they should take some responsibility for their life choices.
> Short of being independently wealthy or raiding your personal savings, no one can afford to become unemployed for an extended period of time because they're raising a child.
Not true. Many women choose not to work to raise children.
> Let's not even get into the fact that this is obviously disproportionately affecting women.
Sure, where "this" means "reality". It's not a corporation's fault that women give birth and men don't.
Someone has to pay for all this stuff.
Or, how about you think about this when finding a job, and weigh the pros and cons of various employers' benefits and policies. We don't always need top-down guidance from bureaucrats in D.C. to solve societal problems.
Sure, if you are in high demand you can probably do this. If you work an entry level job you won't have much leverage and since you probably can't afford to take extended time off, you may find taking care of children somewhere near impossible.
> We don't always need top-down guidance from bureaucrats in D.C. to solve societal problems.
I'm glad you qualified it with always. But a look at U.S. history shows a lot of societal problems were helped by those bureaucrats in DC and elsewhere (school segregation, voting rights, equal access to public transport, public accommodations [restaurants can't deny your service based on your race], equal opportunity employment, etc).
Almost the entire Civil Rights act was about ending GOVERNMENT entrenched racism and repealing laws that forced business owners to discriminate.
But hey do not let facts get in the way of irrational worship of government like it was a deity
It's not an accident, it's merely one of the foundations of any healthy society. I'm willing to part with a bit of our collective wealth to help raise them.
Everything is owned by the collective and we have no personal wealth....
North Korea Welcomes you
If you would have said "I'm willing to part with a little of my wealth" that would have conveyed a believe in personal property.
The children will be born whether you want them to exist or not, and regardless of whether the parents are fit to raise them. Once the kid exists, what do you intend to do with it? Ignore it and hope for the best? Or maybe coax it into some form of societal contract, wherein we all help it reach its maximum potential now, and in return, it constructively participates in the civilized economy later?
The question is really whether you believe that the inability to easily pay the costs of child-rearing, whatever they may be, dissuades people from having more children.
And if, for some reason, one generation decides to grant itself a heap of late-life benefits that will have to be paid for by future productive workers, like retirement funds, pensions, and medical care, it would really be shooting itself in the foot to slash its support for young parents and immigration. The existence of "money" notwithstanding, current consumption always has to be paid for with current production and past stockpiles. Unless there's a warehouse somewhere out there filled with stored-up services for older people, people looking to consume such services had better start thinking about who might be providing them in the future.
Society owes them
Gosh, I'm sure that's comforting to the OP.
OP: "My car's samouflange broke at 60mph and now I'm quadriplegic." cdoxsey: "Well, most samouflange-failure incidents only result in minor bruising, so everything is fine!"
What happens if you're sick but don't have enough sick days saved? Are you fired? Stop getting payed?
For comparison, this is how sick leave works in the uk: https://www.gov.uk/taking-sick-leave
And I don't want to even get in to how fucked up it is to have to save up years of vacation days to take some time off when you have a baby
Agreed. Companies here in the US are pretty stingy with them, too, causing people to come to work sick where they get everyone else sick too.
> What happens if you're sick but don't have enough sick days saved? Are you fired? Stop getting payed?
You stop getting paid and can be fired if the company wishes.
Some companies are subject to FMLA, which protects your job for 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave. Its requirements rule out small businesses and new employees, though:
> In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have been at the business at least 12 months, and worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.
The amount of lost productivity caused by sick people infecting their coworkers per year has to be immense.
Question Four mandates that employees who work for employers having eleven or more employees would earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year, while employees working for smaller employers would earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per calendar year.
Without it, there are people making your food who are working while sick.
Note: I'm not against the idea, just think it's too little to meet it's stated purpose.
The USA looks less and less like a democracy _for_ the people the more I learn about it.
It's what people get when they come up with their own fancy interpretation of the meaning of the word "freedom".
Enjoy a lot of individualism? Well, better be prepared to live with the consequences.
N.B.: I grew up under communist dictatorship, so I know the other extreme too. Both are pernicious.
Also, the vast majority of americans don't actually enjoy any individuality; what they actually love is running their mouths right up to the second they need major medical treatment. Then the whining starts.
A couple years ago I read an amazing interview that I wish I'd kept. During the great recession there was some parent out of work receiving TANF (food stamps) from the government so that he and his wife and kids could eat. And just so it's clear, I can't think of a better use of my tax dollars than making sure all people, particularly kids, have enough to eat. Yet he was busy complaining about how they (and no prize for guessing who they is; some lazy black eating t-bone steaks) was abusing food stamps while he was getting what he deserved. All the while he was eating my tax dollars. It was one of the few times I'd ever sympathized with Republican's needs to embarrass those getting help from the government. I wanted a flashing red sign to go off when this guy bought groceries with food stamps so maybe he'd stop shitting on other people doing the same. Though perhaps some people in life just need someone below them so they can tell themselves that no matter what, they're better than X.
"I've been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me out? No."
But this being the case, having the possibility of extra protection for protracted illnesses isn't going to do a whit for protecting us from coworkers passing around a cold or minor flu.
Forcing this tradeoff is the entire reason that firms have single-pot PTO; this isn't an issue when sick leave is separate from vacation.
Maybe something like 16 hours per quarter, that expire at the end of the quarter.
Now think about people who work in restaurants, fast food, or on an ambulance as emts. Most of them have zero paid sick leave. Hell, when we were discussing Jimmy Johns -- a shitty sub shop -- requiring NDAs, it came out that in order for an employee there to take (unpaid!) sick time, he or she must find a replacement first.
Think about that the next time you buy a sandwich: the person making it will come to work, sick or not. Yummy!
But thanks to the accounting foresight of the employers, those costs are mostly borne by the employees. So the employers have all the leverage, and zero incentive to use it for anyone else's benefit.
In some states it is, though the minimum number, when there is one, tends to be very low.
A) Kills them
B) Is Cured
Losing an income is kinda a big issue when you still have to pay cash for the medical insurance. ACA just fixed one issue. It didn't fix the underlying problem of:
Major Health Event == Bankruptcy Due To Loss of Income
It fixed it for many middle class folks [e.g. programmers] that can save enough to survive that kind of event. I doubt someone making $10-12/hr can save enough.
ACA also expanded Medicaid eligibility  and includes income-based subsidies for insurance, so it addresses (to a certain extent) the having to pay cash for the insurance.
 Though several states successfully sued to create an opt-out for the expansion and have opted out, so in those states, the expansion doesn't exist.
Idk about you but I'm paying about $0/year now and I know that coverage would cost me $XXX/month via cobra or the like. I'd have to start over with Medicaid (due to different providers taking it) combined with the fact its a minority expense less than my food or rent.
Insurance is still tied to employment, and even if you can sign up under the exchange after losing a job, the insurance offered under the exchange is less than desirable.
ACA was never designed to solve any problems with health insurance, in fact it was designed to exacerbate them to pave the way for Single Payer Health Care which based on the comments in this thread will be hailed as wonderful by most of the commenters here because people seem to worship government like it was their Saviour
(I'm not arguing that this actually works for everyone, just that there is a mechanism for dealing with inability to work)
ACA makes it that much more likely that coverage could be maintained.
I don't see how it is unreasonable to expect DI to cover a planned expense like medical insurance, but I agree that I didn't spell all that out in painful detail.
You stop getting paid by your regular employer. Depending on the exact nature and effect of your illness and work situation, you may be eligible for a limited duration of legally-guaranteed job-protected unpaid leave (either federal FMLA or state-level protected leaves which may be more generous), during some of which you may receive disability compensation payments which are less than your regular salary.
When you exhaust the guaranteed job-protected leave, you can be fired.
We had a woman who was up for a promotion and didn't get it. She went in and asked the manager why she didn't get her promotion and the manager told her, "Well, with close to 50 sick days, I'm not sure you're completely committed to to your current job."
So yeah, after so many years of getting abused, they just started a program where you get three weeks off, period. You can decide how you use it. Be it vacation or sick days, doesn't matter.
I believe it's mostly for accounting purposes. Most employers allow you to borrow from what hasn't accrued. It doesn't typically become an issue until you leave the company and have used more than has been accrued. At that time, they will probably not pay you for X days you are over your accrual.
Those of us that don't have the option of a better employer need laws that mandate some reasonable minimum of benefits, because we won't get them any other way.
I think it is generally a crutch used instead of good management (like mass surveillance is a crutch against better police work, and nuclear weapons are crutch against better diplomacy) but so far we know the 'no sick leave' state (pre-union organizing etc) and the 'fixed sick leave' state (what we have today). The new thing, 'don't work when you are sick or recovering' regardless of limits, is a bit too unbounded for most folks. And because of that lack of forecastability it makes forecasting productivity or work production very difficult. Anything that makes it harder on management has a fairly tough road ahead of it.
"We planned for you to have some time to recharge by giving you holidays and vacation days. You got sick? Can't recharge while you're sick, so that's a sick day. Take a REAL vacation day later when you're well."
If anything you're already doing the company a favor to use sick days on vacation rather than any other time because everyone has already planned for you to not be there.
I tend to avoid companies with "unlimited vacation" because their employees seem to take even less vacation than they would have otherwise, don't get compensated for it as a result when they leave, and feel pressured to not take it in the first place. (See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7613526 and many other stories.) It's even worse when the bosses present a terrible work-life balance to employees.
I basically think back to one of the times I've been really sick but not contagious, or my honeymoon, to figure out if I like a vacation policy or not. Minus 1-2x/year for crunch times, assuming I'm keeping up with my workload, would I have taken a day off? Would I have felt like I couldn't take the time off? Would people have been receptive to me working from home? Now double that time off if I want to have kids in the future, am I still okay with it? Sad to say many unlimited policies don't make me feel comfortable on any front here.
What happens if an employee falls on stairs and spends the next two months in hospital and then another one in bed, at home? (happened to a colleague of mine)
This is the trade off we pay for lower taxes. (Yes certain states like NY and CA have higher tax rates, but they make up for it with more state benefits.)
What we really pay for is $1T+/year on our military for bombing brown people and maintaining oil supplies.
See the CA state budget here: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2014-15/Enacted/agencies.html
The big-ticket items are the things affecting tax rates, like 11B on corrections, or almost 50B on K-12 education, and another 50B on health care services.
Not all of it comes from California.
CA sick leave through FMLA, when there's a claim on disability, also draws from EDD. Your employer only starts kicking in your sick leave pay AFTER the state's coverage of your salary maxes out.
EDD spends $14 billion per year. It has a lot to do with high CA tax rates. There's even more related taxes involved if you happen to live in SF itself.
Why would mandating that companies provide meaningful maternity or paternity leave require higher taxes? This topic doesn't have much to do with fiscal policy.
I'm not making a moral argument here -- actually find it rather immoral for a company not to offer adequate time off. I'm just saying the net-effect of a government forcing a company to pay more money than it normally would is a tax.
Let this serve as a warning for young (age-with-a-potential-to-have-a-family) people who might be tempted to relocate to California - you have to ask for a significant premium in salary, since even in good companies (the OP lists multiple items where her job is considered 'above average') you're simply not getting as good conditions as the absolute minimum mandated elsewhere even for the cheapest entry level jobs.
Locally, a shelf-stacker in the most cost-cutting-oriented local supermarket gets far better maternity leave conditions than those described here.
1.5xCurrent Salary -- Because everything is expensive here
+ $10k / marginal tax rate -- for relocation and flights home
+ 500/month forEach dependent spouse -- Medical Dental Vision
+ 250/month for each child dependent -- Medical Dental Vision
+ X -- to replace spouses's Salary because they cant work
+ Y / marginal tax rate -- spending money to keep spouse sane because they cant work and cant stay home all day doing nothing
Edits: small clarifications, gross Y up by tax rate
Don't underestimate X and Y, people...
US provides zero weeks paid maternity leave. Pakistan provides 12. Venezuela manages 18. Canada does 50.
Per Wikipedia, the US joins Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and Liberia as the only countries to not provide paid parental leave of any kind.
Here in Canada, the employment insurance system - a payroll-tax-funded program that handles short-term unemployment benefits - also handles parental leave. They offer 4 months for birth mothers and a an additional 8 months for any parent. The money is tiny - something like half your salary capped to a poverty-level wage, but it's better than nothing and good employers will subsidize it somewhat.
My wife and I split the leave with our 3rd kid. 5 months for her, 7 for me. It's easily some of the happiest days of my life.
There is no reason that private companies should be expected to shoulder this burden. It's practically punishing them for hiring women who want a family. This is the exact kind of case that government exists for.
That policy punishes the company of hiring any fertile woman.
My dad used to hire for a large engineering department. One of the things he had to keep in mind is that if a woman is hired, they can leave pretty much at any time due to FMLA, and hiring someone else is not feasible (due to law). The simple result is if he were given a choice between a man and woman of equal capacity, he would pick the man every time. Women have too much legal baggage.
My answer is that you extend the same rights to the man, and that calculus would equalize itself... but that is wishful thinking here in the US.
We can remove the financial burden from the company by shifting it to the Employee Insurance system, but I don't know how to remove the HR problem of "you have an employee who has gone for a year of unpaid leave and you must give them back their job when they finish their leave". There's no easy answer for that one.
It may be the case with my wife and I as well. We've discussed it, and whoever makes more per 2 weeks will be the one to continue work. But we'd both want that choice to be our own.
And also to be more specific, my dad was Wilbur Crawley. Worked at Faurecia, and was over 50+ engineers in an automotive setting. After being burnt by 2 engineers he brought on, whom were women, both within 2 years were pregnant. Cool, none of his concern, until they FMLA'd and were out for about a year each.
Both projects they were put in charge of were scrapped as the projects themselves had one less person (leaving 2 engineers). They were beaten to market on one of them and the other one fizzled as the engineers were reassigned.
And this also goes back to male vs. female salary issues too. Do women get paid as well as men, given the appropriate experience level? The main source I know of has bad controls. But, the more I think regarding this, what is the cost of FMLA with regard to women?
Is Salary_man == Salary_woman + FMLA_cost ? Ugly indeed.
Why? Around here you see plenty of job offers that go "must start on X and will be terminated on Y (1 year later) -- to replace an employee on maternity leave". I would imagine you would publish that offer plenty of months in advance to X, so you'll have a replacement person hired on time.
There are still cultural barriers resulting in many men not taking the leave, but at least it's an option.
I should note that I think tying the unemployment insurance to maternity/paternity leave is genius.
The reason that private companies should be expected to perhaps shoulder SOME of this "burden" (I disagree with your choice of wording there) is that we all live together in a goddamn society and there should be a part of everyone's effort (private individuals, businesses and the government) that goes towards the overall betterment of that society as a whole, and that includes supporting those that choose to procreate and keep our society going.
Taxes are the right way to pay for this, just like most things that are for the overall betterment of society.
It's like telling corporations they can't buy insurance for a semi-common event since they should 'shoulder SOME of this "burden"' and just self insure. The entire point of their taxes/insurance should be distributing the cost of something like this. They shoulder the burden through their taxes, and it keeps it fair.
In my progressive, bleeding-heart-liberal family? The man still represented only 7 months of leave time, while the woman represented 29. The "leave cost" whatever it may be was 4X higher for my wife.
From a policy perspective, it's roughly egalitarian... but you can't ignore the cultural difference that means 100% maternal leave is the default assumption.
Also a little unfair to compare the whole of the US as one nation -- family leave is handled at the state level. CA, HI, and a few others have somewhat sane family leave laws.
The upward limit on the payment OTOH is quite low (<US$2k/month) but most employers choose to supplement the State payment with the balance of your paycheck.
It's interesting. This is a difficult conversation to have. I have good personal reasons for wanting to relocate to California (I'm British/not American so this is difficult), though logistically it doesn't seem like that will/can happen. What I don't understand though is why so many people want to move to the USA just because. From a purely outside perspective, it seems like it's fairly low down in terms of standard of living/worker's rights/healthcare/etc. For the lucky few (of which those reading here might be over-represented) it's great, but otherwise... I just don't understand. Even for salary I don't see it–I'm entering a short postdoctoral programme at the moment and my salary in the UK is about 1.7 times what I would expect in the states, and it's not like my salary in the UK is even that good(!) and I know full well I'd be worked to death over there too.
I just don't understand. But it's such a can of worms (personal politics, patriotism etc.) that it's difficult to talk about. I will say this though, it really is a beautiful country/continent, and all the people I've met seem pretty happy.
It sounds like you're working in academia, a sector which is under pressure from way too many people who would like to enter it. It's pretty likely you don't want to and won't get to work in the United States in this sector: the market is very saturated.
For other positions in the United States, it's more plausible to find comparable or better salaries. In many areas you can also expect lower tax burdens and lower costs of living, especially if you're interested in owning a small home of your own or if you expect to operate a motor vehicle (your petrol prices are twice as high as ours because taxes). Rising medical costs are an ongoing concern, and recent reform attempts have done an excellent job at not fixing this, while possibly also undermining the economic recovery in general. :(
"Workers' rights" are in fact more limited, but the labor market is typically much more dynamic and as such when there is hiring going on in the economy at large, it's much easier to actually get hired to begin with and change jobs to a better employer. It's especially much easier to break into new fields as a young person -- youth unemployment has long been a chronic problem throughout much of the EU, including the UK, and it's only at the bottom of this last recession that the US has reached similar levels, despite many EU nations having more favorable demographics which should mitigate against it. (The US has more illegal immigrants than some EU member nations have citizens.) So this is sort of a risk / reward tradeoff.
Now myself, I'm pondering a job offer which would put me in London in a year, so I'll get a glimpse at things over there in practice before too long. :)
The advantage of going to CA, and then leaving academia, would be better access to local employers, who often don't recruit abroad. You still face the visa problem, though.
In addition to the financial considerations mentioned above, most US employers don't make very large contributions to funding pensions (~5% "matching 401K" is considered generous), whereas the total contribution at UK universities is about 16% of salary.
If you do go abroad, don't forget to continue paying minimal national insurance contributions in the UK. This will help if you suddenly need expensive medical care, become unemployed, etc.
The US state of post-doc employment is well documented to be abysmal. I never had to go through it, but had the privilege to work with people that had and gave up, going tech route instead.
Because of taxation and general consumerism, you get great standard of living as long as nothing bad happens. On average luxury goods are cheaper in US. You even have the option of Oregon to avoid sales tax on big purchases all together (doesn't work on cars easily).
The weather/nature in Bay Area is amazing too. Los Angeles is a bit more desert-like, but still great.
Can't speak for east coast though.
While this is certainly true when you discuss the bare minimum legal requirements, many employers here go above and beyond the requirements and offer benefits that are equal to what you find in other countries.
Not trying to start an argument, but do you have any sources for this? I work for an independent school and my benefits are fantastic.
Thank you. This is the perfect example of an anecdote. Walmart, the largest employer in the US at 2.2mm employees. Guess who FMLA benefits don't apply to? Small businesses (<50 employees) and part-time employees. Guess who is the biggest part-time employer?
And know I don't have numbers. Other countries have created a uniform referable benefits baseline that companies are required to provide. For me to answer your question I would need to interrogate every US company. There are research companies that do exactly that, I would need to pay for their answers.
But I always thought it was put best by some blogger I read years ago. They said that in the fantasy or religious worlds, evil is something that just exists so corporeally that it might as well be a noun. An evil rock is evil by definition.
But in the real world, such things don't exist. Evil is not a state of being or can be encapsulated in an object. The closest definition to evil that can be defined from a real world viewpoint, is the undertaking of action that is done (usually out of selfishness) at the known expense of others.
Anyway, that's exactly what you are reacting to. That's objective evil. And not to go full godwin, but our society has had large public trials where we collectively decided that simply acting in accordance with one's job is not a moral defense.
I'd also like to point out that skimpy paternity leave policy is also bad for mothers. Some mothers are fortunate to have friends and family willing to pause their lives to help with the transition and recovery, but some really need the father around to take over running the household, especially if there were complications during the birth.
I can recognize that while still thinking the entire family, and society as a whole, is shortchanged by undervaluing the contributions of fathers to families with newborns.
While some legal reforms are probably needed, I don't see why employers shouldn't be called to task for their policies in these areas. If corporate leaders can be called to task for off-the-cuff statements, why can't they be called to task for something with such an immediate and obvious impact?
EDIT: I'll also add a coda here to point out that most pregnancies are unplanned. Expecting new mothers and fathers to have prescience with respect to parental leave is unrealistic at best.
What if the father and the spouse are different people? What if someone meets and moves in with an already pregnant woman? What there isn't a spouse/SO but a live-in grandmother would want time off to perform similar functions?
It will be a challenge to both accommodate diverse family situations and make sure all newborns and mothers are properly cared for.
A policy that works and feels fair for EVERY possible family situation is probably not possible. Shouldn't stop us from trying to improve things for most people.
It is a country with a high GDP, strong military, good natural resources, strong manufacturing. All those nice things. But it is still not a civilized country.
You also have the right to 3 years unpaid leave (extended with further children) and the employer must find you a similar position when you return to work.
So far this has neither economically crippled the nation nor made it impossible for its companies to compete on the international market, nor driven all the manufacturing and blue-collar work abroad.
I'm just astonished how such different systems can coexist. What are the benefits of the American system and who receives them? A lower tax burden? Is it really that much lower to be worth it?
Is this good in the long term? Maybe not, but it is the American aesthetic. It goes hand in hand with the perpetual hope that we will win the lottery/start the next Facebook/work our way up the ladder and then we too can benefit from low taxes. That's why poor Americans defend the privileges of rich Americans to the death: if we ever make it up there we want those privileges to remain!
Perhaps if the national debate was about being a civilized country instead of framing it as 'socialism' we'd eventually be able to move into the modern era in the context of social policy.
Countries with no national paid maternity leave policy: US, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and Liberia 
Countries who have executed people in the past 25 years who were under 18 at the time of their crimes: The People's Republic of China (PRC), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United States and Yemen. 
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave (also noted elsewhere in the comments)
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment#Juvenile_off... Admittedly this fact is cherry picked. The US has since changed the policy
People have a choice where they work. Had this happened to me I would be high tailing it out of there but professors dont have that luxury.
News are by definitions things that almost never happen.
Define corruption level, quantify it, and then we can talk.
Best of luck to you and your wife!
You will be shocked to hear that even men without children can recognize the need to retain employees that they value, because you can be sure that your competitors in the employment market will offer less misogynistic polices.
Sadly, I had to argue this very point years ago with my Microsoft coworkers. "Wah, I don't have kids, it's unfair!" Hey, I don't have kids and never will, but that doesn't mean I can't recognize the value of offering company benefits that I will never use.
But not all, probably only few, are that fortunate. And though as I grow older and have less need for such safety nets, I also grow to realize that shit needs to change for all.
And the UK isn't even particularly progressive about this sort of thing. Norwegians get 13 months at 80% pay followed by up to a year unpaid. In Spain you can take up to 3 years unpaid.
Please have the decency to be explicit about what you are saying. No government, federal or otherwise, has any means to pay for anything. All money comes from taxes. All taxes come from individuals. What you are really saying is "I think all of the taxpaying individuals in the United States should pay for women's maternity leave."
Once you recognize that, I can do no better than quote P.J. O'Rourke:
"...remember that all tax revenue is the result of holding a gun to somebody's head.
Not paying taxes is against the law.
If you don't pay taxes, you'll be fined.
If you don't pay the fine, you'll be jailed.
If you try to escape from jail, you'll be shot.
Thus I -- in my role as citizen and voter -- am going to shoot you -- in your role as taxpayer and ripe suck -- if you don't pay your fair share of the national tab.
Therefore, every time the government spends money on anything, you have to ask yourself, "Would I kill my kindly, gray-haired mother for this?"
So, would you kill your mother to pay for someone else's maternity leave?
"Would my kindly, gray-haired mother refuse to pay taxes for this?"
"If she didn't, would my kindly, gray-haired mother really manage to escape from prison?"
"Even if she did escape, am I certain that she would be shot instead of apprehended and re-arrested like the majority of other escapees?"
And this is, of course, all conditional on the idea that the government would simply throw you in jail right off instead of garnishing wages or seizing assets to cover the tab (you know, the things that would actually happen).
And the best part about all of this is that, all you've really come down to is the idea that maybe the parent commenter didn't realize that governments can't pay for things without taxes, as if that very basic feature of how governments work had momentarily escaped dmm just as he was typing to an HN <textarea>.
This holds the average citizen in contempt, and I reject the whole sophomoric chain of 'causation'. People behave because they're civilized and orderly and want their community to thrive.
So lets get the conversation back to, how do we want to maintain a standard of living that benefits us all. Through taxes and rules and institutions, like we have always done.
As a member of a "society", be it a country or a family or anything between, you have to abide by the customary procedure by which decisions affecting everyone are made. (Maybe they are majority vote, maybe they are by autocratic rule, maybe they are endless discussions in an effort to reach consensus, or whatever.) In some cases, you may disagree with the outcome of such decisions, and it is then up to you to decide whether the advantages of remaining associated with the group outweigh the disadvantages. If the answer is that they do not, you are (in most cases in the civilized world) free to leave. Such is the case here, because you are in fact free to not pay taxes to the American government: There is a procedure by which you can resign your American citizenship, and no gun will be held to your head. (You will however be forced to pay $2500 or something for the privilege.)
If you remain, you do so because you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, even after having lost the argument about whether maternity leave should be paid for by taxes. No one is holding a gun to your head, even in the most extreme situation imaginable.
So please stop that absurd line of reasoning.
But fortunately I wouldn't have to, because she pays her taxes. And is proud to, last I checked.
As you can tell, I reject your whole line of thinking.
It makes a bunch of assumptions to carry the situation to extremes, and then innocently asks, "you wouldn't want that extreme outcome, would you?". The same argument can be made against any form of regulation whatsoever.
Wow! I never noticed, and I've been paying taxes for 25 years...
Edit: This is interesting. Not saying it's University of New Mexico, but it is in Albuquerque and this includes a reference to her exact phrase "pregnancy or prenatal care" : http://policy.unm.edu/university-policies/3000/3440.html
And, on their FAQ under #21: http://hr.unm.edu/benefits/fmla.php#faqs ... Mentions "serious medical condition"
As well as their contract : http://hr.unm.edu/docs/labor-relations/united-staff-unm-(usu... mentions "pregnancy or prenatal care"
I understand "outing" is a legitimate concern, but these are bits of information that she herself has revealed. The rest is conjecture, as I'm sure she would have expected of her audience as an educated and reasonably intelligent person.
The author strikes me as someone who carefully weighed the consequences of sharing the story.
I think maybe there could be a lottery and people could collectively agree and randomly single out one actor and boycott it for some time. That would force at least that one actor to care and enforce competition. Who cares about fairness, if everybody is guilty?
If you want to move the earth, starting a landslide is a lot easier than strip-mining.
These days I'm independent and have a very large cash buffer in case something else happens. Planning with cash is way easier than trying to negotiate giant employer leave policies, in my experience.
*I was diagnosed with a very treatable form of cancer in November 2012.
When companies pull that shit, you see people getting a lot sicker, because people come into the office when they should be staying home. The month of February becomes a constant, never-ending cold.
That's a brand new level of fucked up behavior, holy hell.
Is that not the norm?
Stick it out for a year or two (to avoid the "job hopper" stigma) if you don't hate it, and bounce. Why be loyal to a company that isn't loyal to you?
Companies that make you use PTO for sick days have given up on playing against the market and are now playing against their employees. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
In short, I was:
- Warned that I could potentially be charged with fraud for enrolling my wife in family health coverage before the baby's birth.
- Told that I would "void my FMLA rights" if I performed any work activity while off. (Although I had 10 weeks of paid accruals and supervisory approval to take off!) The overzealous HR person tried to have my accounts disabled as well. Stopping this required that I walk into the HR Director's office and complain -- not an option for people lower down in the hierarchy.
- Charged $750 because my son had the temerity to be born after the new year, and hospitalization pre-approvals expire with the calendar year.
My wife had a whole litany of wacky things happen. It is a nightmare.
Now we all realize that if someone is going to resign, it's most likely going to happen after a long vacation. I don't know if HR realizes this yet.