Zero Weeks  A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT AMERICA'S family leave crisis

why it matters


We are paying for it already, albeit indirectly and inefficiently. Ignoring the external/internal business challenge of employee caregiving doesn’t make it go away. When faced with the choice between family and work, people will often choose family even if it means financial hardship. When someone quits without paid leave, especially a low wage worker, they are often forced to apply for public assistance which is paid by taxpayers. Wouldn’t it be better to contribute to universal paid leave that lasts 6-12 weeks, versus enrollment in public assistance that could go on much longer if the individual can’t find a new job?

​Countries guaranteeing longer paid maternity leave tend to enjoy lower child poverty rates as well. This is because the majority of women must take at least some time off from work to physically recover from childbirth, and paid leave makes them more likely to return to employment after. It is also because paid leave is associated with higher maternal wages. In the United States, access to paid maternity leave makes mothers less likely to rely on public assistance after the birth of a child.


Better for Employers / Businesses of all sizes. For employers, losing an employee is very expensive. Experts estimate it can cost anywhere from 50% of the wages of a low skilled employee to 200% of the salary of a professional staff person. Wouldn’t it be better to lose someone temporarily for six weeks, knowing they will come back, versus having a valuable employee quit because of caregiving pressures and replacing them? There is no guarantee the next person you hire—male or female—won’t experience caregiving challenges either.
Unnecessary Burden on Women
Women are forced to put their careers and financial future at risk simply because they have children. During their pregnancy, they face being fired unfairly or not being able to properly care for themselves. They should not have to worry about making ends meet without paid maternity leave on top of that. At the same time that working women in the U.S. lack a benefit widely available across the globe, almost 50 percent of families had two working parents in 2010, and 26 percent of households were headed by single parents. Without guaranteed paid maternity leave, many of these working women face significant financial hardship by having to choose between their paycheck and their families.


​Family Care is Better Care
Paid Family Leave acknowledges the truth is that we are all potential caregivers. We may not end up having children, but all of us have parents and aging relatives who will very likely at some point require care.


It is estimated that family caregivers provide 80% of the long-term adult care in the United States. It costs three times as much to care for someone in a facility than it does at home. If family members can’t get a paid leave to provide the care at home, then the only choice is a costlier facility , which someone has to cover.  In many cases, this is tax payer money.


Stress  is bad for business. The smartest policy for every organization is to slash stress, since it undercuts the work of everyone affected by it and increases presenteeism, retention problems (40% of employees who leave companies cite stress as the cause), and medical costs.

The problem


Out of 178 nations, there are only two countries that do not offer paid maternity leave benefits: the USA and Papua New Guinea. The United States is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave, let alone paid leave for fathers, which more than 50 nations also offer. American women are currently offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which exempts companies with fewer than 50 paid employees. In 2011, only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public workers reported that they had access to paid maternity leave through their employer. According to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), only 12 percent of workers get paid family leave through their employers. 

america: the worst country in the world for working mothers