The U.S. is one of the only developed countries without paid parental leave: current law does not even extend unpaid leave to about 40 percent of American workers. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the issue was singular: President-elect Trump was the first-ever Republican presidential candidate to include paid maternity leave in his platform, making it one of the only new policy prescriptions to earn support from both candidates, and making this the first campaign cycle in which both candidates campaigned on some form of guaranteed leave. New polling from Sermo, the leading global social media site exclusively for physicians, now shows that the majority of U.S. doctors support paid leave policies surrounding the birth of a child that more closely mirror the standards held by the rest of the world.
Sermo’s recent study of 2,119 U.S. physicians shows that seventy percent believe parental leave should be paid and guaranteed. Their response remains on par with global doctors—71 percent of whom support paid leave, according to a separate poll conducted among 3,605 global Sermo members. Unlike the U.S. presidential candidates, who disagreed on paid leave for new fathers, U.S. doctors support offering it to both parents: 64 percent responded that paid leave should be extended equally to new mothers and fathers. An infographic of the findings can be found here.
According to the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at UCLA, the U.S. is one of only eight countries in the world – and the only high-income nation by the World Bank’s standards – lacking any mandated paid leave for new parents. 94 countries around the world also offer at least some guaranteed paid leave to new fathers.
“Adequate maternity and paternity leave are essential for new parents to adjust to the changes of parenthood, allow new mothers time to recover, and to encourage healthy development for newborns,” said Dr. Jennifer Marsden, Sermo member. “I’ve lived in Europe and the States, and as a member of the U.S. Army I was offered paid maternity leave – something that isn’t available for many in the U.S., unlike the rest of the world. It’s time we catch up. Paid leave provides peace of mind for families and critical economic support for mothers who work outside the home, along with important health benefits for parents and children alike.”
“In my experience, nothing compares to my child’s smile when she knows that I don’t need to go to work,” said Dr. Nikolaos Zogas, an internist practicing in Sweden. “One may argue that a high-salaried parent may see his/her income reduced during the leave, but parents gain the best gift of all: bonding, with more constructive and fun time, with one’s child. After all, there is nothing more important than our little creations and each unique moment we share with them.”
Sweden extended parental leave to new fathers in 1974, expanding on its maternity leave benefit. There, parents receive 480 days of leave for one child. The days can be taken out as whole or partial days until the child turns 8 years old. A parent may receive up to 80% of current salary under parental leave, and the benefit is capped for the highest earners.
Asked about the length of leave needed, 55 percent of U.S. doctors said that 12 weeks is the right amount of time to protect maternal and infant health, while 31 percent recommended a longer leave. Similarly, 53 percent of U.S. doctors agreed that the Family Medical Leave Act does not need to be amended to increase leave from 12 weeks.
The poll of U.S. physicians was conducted via email to a random sample of Sermo community members. 2,119 responded. Participation was voluntary and results were kept anonymous. The margin of error was ± 3 percent.
The poll of global physicians’ sentiments on paid parental leave was conducted on the Sermo site, open to all members, and received responses from 3,605 Sermo members. Participation was voluntary and results were kept anonymous. The margin of error was ±2 percent.
For more information about Sermo polls and methodology, please visit www.sermo.com/polls.
Sermo is the leading global social network for physicians – the world’s largest virtual doctors’ lounge, where hundreds of thousands of fully verified and licensed global physicians anonymously talk real-world medicine, collectively solve cases, respond to healthcare polls, and earn honorarium from surveys. Sermo is also the world’s largest healthcare professional (HCP) polling company, conducting 700,000 surveys per year. The Sermo platform is composed of two million HCPs from 80 countries, and includes the largest U.S. physician panel in existence: over 800,000 doctors who represent more than 80 percent of the U.S. physician population. By giving doctors a private and trusted platform for open dialogue with international colleagues, and by presenting more opportunities to engage with and learn from global HCPs, Sermo is revolutionizing real-world medicine. Learn more at www.Sermo.com.
Liz Wells, Racepoint Global
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Osnat Benshoshan, Chief Marketing Officer, Sermo