How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?
The US doesn't have a law that specifically covers parental leave. There is another law, called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), that may be used toward parental leave, though it does not apply to everyone. It provides up to 12 weeks and requires the employer to maintain employees' health benefits, but it's unpaid and comes with restrictions on who is eligible. It is, however, applicable to both men and women.
States have cobbled together their own policies, meanwhile, and some states may offer better benefits than what's available under the FMLA. Parental leave is also largely dependent on the policies decided by Americans' employers. Many companies offer none.
What is the pay during the time off and how does it change over time?
There is no requirement for an employer to provide pay for parental leave.
Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?
Families can receive credits worth 25 to 30% of childcare costs, capped at $3,000 per child per year, with the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC). Actual childcare costs, meanwhile, are much higher than what the tax credit covers.
The average cost of full-time care in childcare centers for all children age zero to 4 in the US is $9,589 a year, according to research from New America, a think tank. Childcare takes up a large share of Americans' paychecks.
“Nationally, the cost of full-time care in child care centers is 85 percent of the monthly US median cost of rent,” New America said in a report.
Some employers offer a dependent-care assistance plan. In that case, you can exclude up to $5,000 from taxable wages per year. This limit is reduced to $2,500 for married employees filing taxes separately, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
About 56% of employers say they provide this benefit, according to a 2016 "National Study of Employers."
What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?
From 2005 through 2007, 70% of women returned to work within a year of their first birth, according to US Census data; sixty percent returned within five months.
Meanwhile, 29% of moms don’t work outside of the home (as of 2012), up from a low of 23% in 1999, according to the Pew Research Center. “The share of stay-at-home mothers has risen since 2000 among married mothers with working husbands and single mothers,” says Pew.
How much time off is afforded for paternity?
A father who falls under the FMLA can take up to 12 weeks off during the birth of a child and to care for a spouse who is incapacitated by the childbirth, according to the Department of Labor. But as noted above, not every American is covered by the FMLA.
With assistance from Emily Martin, the general counsel and vice president of workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center.
—Rachael Levy, Business Insider