Here’s what one small-business owner thinks of paid parental leave.
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CNBC's The Profit

Tami spent a good part of her life working jobs that didn’t necessarily agree that time off with a new baby — for either or both parents — was a good idea.

Then she met Marcus Lemonis of the CNBC reality show "The Profit," which takes over struggling businesses and turns them around. She was offered paid maternity leave and, soon after, was made co-owner of the Key West Key Lime Pie Company.


Her experience was an exception, however.

Paid maternity leave is something the United States is actually really far behind the rest of the world on.

Here’s a map that kinda brings it into shocking perspective.

This map shows countries with paid leave from work for mothers of infants. Graphic via WORLD Policy Analysis Center at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

When new mothers are forced to go right back to work, they can experience all sorts of negative health issues, such as post-partum depression, extreme fatigue, physical problems related to childbirth, and more. Conversely, children who have their mothers at home tend to be healthier.

Here are a few of the benefits kids see when their mothers can stay with them:

  • They're less likely to get respiratory infections.
  • They're more likely to be current with immunizations.
  • They're more likely to breast-feed during infancy (with its well-established benefits).
  • And, in general, they're less likely to die between 0 and 5 years.

For a country that professes to care so much about our children, the United States sure seems behind the curve with family leave.

Thankfully, small businesses are generally more likely to support family life and the ability to take time off to deal with health crises and having kids and the things that go along with, you know, life. They're just more able to have that personal touch and to get to know employees personally.

When we lose small businesses to big corporations buying or forcing them out of business, we lose some of that personal, family touch.

GIF from "The Profit Effect: The Working Parent & Paid Parental Leave."

A few big companies, such as Netflix, have begun offering paid parental leave, but sometimes to salaried professionals only, not to the hourly workers who usually need it the most. Others have followed suit; Nestle and Virgin are now offering paid family leave, though in the latter case, once again, for management only. Another, The Gates Foundation, recently began offering up to one full year of paid family leave.

Also, the U.S. Family Medical Leave Act can provide some unpaid time off (up to 12 weeks), but 40% of U.S. workers do not qualify. In addition, how many people who are already making close to poverty-level wages can actually take unpaid time off and not lose their home, car, or everything? It's a stop-gap measure at best.

Becoming a small-business owner reinforced Tami's view of paid parental leave — one that she formed when she didn't have access to it.

It's interesting hearing her perspective after becoming The Boss. For some folks, it might change their mind.

Not her. Watch:

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

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Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

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via @jharrisfour / Twitter

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