Bernie Sanders: Every working woman should get 12 weeks paid maternity leave, not two weeks unpaid

The Democratic Presidential candidate says it’s unacceptable that 20% of American women only take two weeks leave

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The Independent US

Democrat Bernie Sanders has stepped up his campaign on paid parental leave, arguing it is unacceptable that 20% of American working women only take two weeks off after giving birth.

The 74-year-old Vermont Senator and father of one, who is speaking about his family policies in Iowa on Friday as part of the campaign trail, wants to offer every working woman in the US the right to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Mr Sanders will propose that employees can also take three months of paid leave if they or a family member becomes ill.

Currently 20% of the female workforce returns to work just 14 days after giving birth as they can’t afford to stay home with their newborn babies.

The bill was introduced by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and would be paid for by raising taxes on a typical worker by $1.61 per week.

Fellow Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton also wants to provide three months of paid parental leave, but has not yet announced how the move would be financed.

Both candidates are trying to enhance the existing 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, signed by former President Bill Clinton, which allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

President Obama pointed out in his State of Union address last January that the US is the only developed economy that does not have paid sick or maternity leave for workers enshrined by law.

According to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Bulgaria offers the most paid maternity leave at 58.6 weeks. Second on the list is the UK at 39 weeks.