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Seth Meyers' 5 Best Lines on Paid Leave in the US

Patrick Ball on April 11, 2016 12:03 PM

Seth Meyers takes on the US's lack of a paid leave policy

Add “Late Night” host Seth Meyers to the list of celebrities speaking out about the lack of paid leave for American parents.

Following New York state’s approval of a progressive statewide family leave policy, Meyers alternated between jokes and researched critiques to put the United States on blast for its lack of a federal policy mandating paid leave for new parents.  

Here, we’ll look at Meyers’ 5 best lines on paid leave. 


  1. “The Family Medical Leave Act has more exceptions than a Groupon”
    Only about 60 percent of Americans qualify for 12 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA, which was passed in 1993. Those exceptions include employees who haven’t worked at their job for at least a year, who work for a company that employs less than 50 people or who work part-time.

  2. “That lack of income forces many parents to go back to work just weeks after a baby is born, and that’s bad for everyone.”
    Babies binging “True Detective” notwithstanding, there is ample evidence connecting paid leave with better future outcomes for children. Meyers pointed to research showing babies whose parents go back to work before 12 weeks are less likely to be up-to-date on immunizations and more likely to exhibit behavior problems. Studies have also shown correlations between higher educational attainment and lifetime earnings for children whose parents took paid parental leave.

  3.  “Going back to work early is bad for moms too.”
    Less than 15 percent of employees have access to paid family leave. Without that safety net, many new moms return to work too early and new dads take no leave at all. Nearly 25 percent of new moms surveyed in 2012 returned to work within just two weeks of having a new baby, according to an In These Times investigative feature. As Meyers pointed out, when new moms return to work too early, they’re more at risk to suffer from depression among other complications.

  4. “Do you want someone who’s been up all night with a newborn driving your bus or performing your Lasic or hosting your talk show?”
    Performance and productivity suffers significantly when new parents have to return to work with little or no paid parental leave. Retention also becomes a problem, especially when new moms don’t have time to recover and bond with their new babies before returning to work. A little less than half of working moms return to their jobs within the first three months of giving birth, and more than a third don’t return the first year, according to a Census Bureau report. About 20 percent quit their jobs around the birth of a child.  A member poll identified cost of child care, desire to spend more time with family, lack of workplace flexibility, concerns about quality of child care and subpar employee benefits as main reasons new moms quit their jobs around the birth of a child. Paid parental leave would allow time and flexibility to address a number of those issues.

  5. “This kind of law should be the rule not the exception. We should have policies in place that help all Americans be the best parents they can be.”
    It’s better for children, it’s better for parents and it’s better for their employers.

Absent a federal paid leave policy, it falls largely to employers to provide paid leave for new parents.

At a time when competition is fierce for top young talent, we've seen dozens of progressive companies announce innovative and generous policies aimed at recruiting and retaining new moms and dads. From paid leave to family-care benefits, like backup child care, leading organizations a realizing supporting working parents is good for their people, their brands and their bottom lines. 


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