Maternity Leave: Policy and Practice, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Maternity Leave

Policy and Practice, 1st Edition

By Victoria Gordon


328 pages | 16 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781466573581
pub: 2013-06-10
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429254413
pub: 2013-06-10
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Maternity leave is a complex issue, both personally and professionally. And, more often than not, policy differs from practice. Based on interviews that highlight the perspectives and perceptions of new mothers, Maternity Leave: Policy and Practice examines the disconnect between maternity leave policy and practice. It presents the history and development of maternity leave policies and related legislation, and then provides a fresh perspective for understanding through individual interviews of women who recently utilized maternity leave.

The book also examines themes and patterns developed from the interviews, such as inconsistencies in administration of maternity leave policies, timing, transition back to work, child care, breastfeeding and pumping, and unmet needs and professional concerns. It also gives a voice to those who are absent from the core interviews—women who have children at a young age, men who utilize paternity leave, women in same-sex relationships who start families, and women who choose not to have children. The book highlights why some colleagues may be unsupportive of the utilization of maternity leave.

A single-source guide to understanding maternity leave, the book contains a wealth of information, including an overview of legislation related to pregnancy and maternity leave; trends in birth rates, fertility rates, employment patterns, and the relationship to the types of maternity leave offered and taken; issues related to maternal health; an international comparison of policies; and practical recommendations for policy and organizational change. It not only offers a comprehensive and complete understanding of the complexities of maternity leave, both in policy and in practice, but also practical recommendations for policy and organizational change.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What Have We Done to Our Daughters?

Maternity Leave—An Unresolved Conversation?

Are Maternity Leave Expectations and Realities Mismatched?


Background: Understanding the Legislative Intent and Symbolism of Public Policies

In the Beginning: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Tax Code and Child Care and Child Tax Credits

The Promises and Problems of the Family and Medical Leave Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Economic, Social, and Symbolic Implications of Maternity Leave Policies



The Evolution and Devolution of Maternity Leave as an Employee Benefit

Trends in Birthrates, Fertility Rates, Employment Patterns, and Use of Maternity Leave Benefits

Types of Maternity Leave Taken—Paid and Unpaid

Types of Paternity and Parental Leave Policies

Examples of Maternity Leave Policies

Antenatal Leave and Short-Term Disability Leave

No Leave and Permanent Exit from the Workplace


Women’s Health Care and the Workplace

Health Insurance for Women of Childbearing Age

Fertility Issues

Intended and Unintended Pregnancies

Pregnancy and Work

Pregnancy and Factors Impacting Infant Mortality


Maternity Leave and Infant Mortality

Mother’s Return to Work and Breast-Feeding

Well-Baby Doctor Visits

Postpartum Issues

Optimal Length of Maternity Leave

The Baby’s Perspective

The Need for a Holistic Approach to Women’s Health


Research Approach

The Methodology: Why Qualitative Research?

Analysis of the Interviews

Study Limitations

The Participants: Who Are These Women?

Description of the In-Depth Interview Questions


The Interviews: Profiles of Women and Their Perceptions and Experiences

Employees of Public Universities

Employees of Private Universities

Employees of the Pharmaceutical Industry


The Themes: How Women Cope with the Myths and Realities of Maternity Leave

Inconsistencies in Administration of Maternity Leave Policies

It Is All in the Timing

Transition Back to Work

Child Care

Breast-Feeding, Pumping, and the Workplace

Unmet Needs and Professional Concerns

The Other Voices

Students Who Are Mothers: Is It Better to Have Children at a Younger Age?

Fathers Who Utilized Paternity Leave

Challenges Faced by Same-Sex Couples Who Decide to Become Parents

Women Who Decided Not to Have Children

Unsupportive versus Supportive Colleagues—The Stereotypes and Biases

Administrative Views—Rules versus Discretion



An International Comparison—The Other Kingdoms

What Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, and Parental Leave Benefits Are Offered in Other Countries?

Why Is the United States Lagging behind Other Countries in Providing Maternity Leave Benefits?


Conclusion: Can the Fairy Tale Be Realized or Should It Be Rewritten?

What Are the Obstacles to a Happy Ending for Our Daughters?

What Can We Reasonably Expect to Change within Our Organizations?

What Is Best for Society?

Restoring the Fairy Tale



About the Originator

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