What is the future of maternity leave in a Trump administration?

Business owners should prepare for many changes under Trump's administration.

President Trump made it clear that he plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act once inaugurated, but that's not the only change the new president has in store for workplace benefits. During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to implement a new maternity leave policy for mothers that would allow them to collect unemployment benefits for up to six weeks after they have a child, according to CNN Money. 

Right now, only 14 percent of all U.S. workers have access to paid family leave, according to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And studies have shown that the number of women taking advantage of maternity leave has remained relatively steady for the past two decades.

"Right now, only 14 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave."

Approximately 273,000 women go on maternity leave each month, according to numbers from an Ohio State University study. But of those women, less than 48 percent were paid for their absence in 2015. This statistic might help explain why the number of women utilizing maternity leave hasn't gone up even as more states adopt maternity leave provisions. The study's authors also note that some women might be nervous to take maternity leave for fear of becoming less valuable in the workplace.

Paid leave can attract top talent

Although it is not certain that Trump's maternity leave plan will become a law, employers should still consider the benefits of offering paid maternity leave as an employer benefit regardless of Trump's proposal. Providing this benefit would be an easy way for companies to set themselves apart from many others, and would also help send a message to employees that their personal and family lives are just as valued as their workplace contributions. Moving forward, providing paid maternity leave might become a necessity to remain competitive to potential employees as maternity leave grows in popularity.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 21 percent of large U.S. corporations offered paid maternity leave in 2015, which is a significant increase from 12 percent the year prior. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Netflix, Facebook and Amazon have recently expanded their paid leave offerings, SHRM explained. This benefit doesn't have to be limited to large corporations though. Business owners just need to analyze the costs and benefits of implementing a paid maternity leave policy and determine whether it is something worthwhile for their business at the time.

Some cities and states are taking the matter of paid leave into their own hands, so business owners should be ready to adapt if a city or state in which they operate implements mandatory paid leave laws. San Francisco requires six weeks of paid family leave for employees beginning this year, and New York is the first state to pass 12 weeks of mandatory paid leave, starting in 2018.