On Tuesday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), US Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, shared some tweets about paid parental leave. She noted that paid familial leave in the US is only about six weeks, while even puppies aren’t separated from their mothers until eight weeks of age. She says the US, like other industrial nations, should rethink how fast parents must return to work after welcoming a new baby into their family.
“Puppies aren’t separated from their moms until ~8 weeks. Less than that is thought of as harmful or abusive.” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Tuesday. “One of the most common lengths of US paid family leave is ~6 weeks.”
“So yes,” she continued, “when we ‘let the market decide’ on parental leave, ‘the market’ treats people worse than dogs.”
It’s true — it’s thought to be inhumane to separate puppies for adoption before they’re reached eight weeks. Those first two months are critical bonding time with their mothers.
But for humans, the standard isn’t the same. The average length of US paid family leave is about six weeks, which Ocasio-Cortez criticized earlier on Tuesday during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on paid family and medical leave.
“I have to disclose that I have a stake in this fight,” she said. “When I was first starting my office here, I decided to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave. And in my first 11 or 12 months in office, there have been six pregnancies in my congressional office. And six folks have taken pregnancy or medical leave — five of them men in my office, new fathers or folks that are taking medical leave — taking care of their families.”
“This has been a very important dynamic,” she added. “Many of the men in our office have testified how after the birth of their children or in supporting their partners how critical it has been to be there for, in each of these cases, the women in their lives.”
Ocasio-Cortez also submitted two testimonies of her staffers on the impact of paid family leave, especially on the positive impacts of paid family leave for men on their wives and children. Full family bonding time, and the extra helping hands, can be essential in helping new moms recover.
Ocasio-Cortez also pointed out that the majority of people in the US do not even have access to paid family leave at all. Less than two in 10 of all American civilian workers had access to paid family leave as of March 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Do we know how long puppies are allowed to stay with their mothers after a dog has given birth?” Ocasio-Cortez said during the hearing. “Eight weeks. So the market has decided that women and people who give birth deserve less time with their children than a dog. And I think that, that at its core has shown that the market has failed to treat people with dignity and with basic respect. And so, when that happens I think it’s our job as the public to redefine the rules of society and to treat people who give birth with the dignity that they deserve.”
In the hearing and her following tweets, Ocasio-Cortez advocated for a minimum of three months paid family leave in the US. In one of AOC ‘s later tweets, she clarified: “Ideally, I believe we should have 6-12 months of paid leave — just as many other industrial nations do.”