May 10, 2015

Last Week Tonight's John Oliver took on the issue of paid family leave in honor of Mother's Day this Sunday. As Oliver reminded his audience, there's "nothing we wouldn't do for moms, except for one major thing," which is paying them for time off after they've just had a baby.

Sadly, the United States and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that do not offer paid time off for new mothers. As Oliver reminded his viewers, "here in the U.S. federal law grants workers just twelve weeks of unpaid leave and there are some stark limits on that," which means that forty percent of workers are not even covered by the federal law giving them the unpaid time off.

The end result being that women end up being very creative in finding ways to get those days off, whether it's taking sick leave, or vacation time, or using their FEMLA days. Which led to this statement by Oliver.

OLIVER: This is not how it's supposed to work. Mother's shouldn't have to stitch time together to recover from childbirth.

Oliver drove that point home by showing some footage of a mother from the film, The Motherhood Manifesto, where a woman discussed being forced to go back to work immediately after having a premature baby.

And in case anyone thought this was an issue limited only to women, he also took at look at the way Major League Baseball treats their players, along with the talking heads in the media, if any of them dares to take the lousy three days off that they're given if one of their wives has a baby.

After taking a look back at how lawmakers reacted back in 1993, including that mean nasty piece of work we've all come to know so well since then, Tom DeLay, and them railing against the unpaid leave law being a "job killer" (sound familiar?) that's going to destroy businesses, Oliver pointed to the results of a 2012 survey which showed few if any negative results from the law.

Of course, that didn't stop the latest arguments we've seen that it's the paid, as opposed to unpaid leave that's going to destroy jobs and the economy, but once again, that argument seems to be blown out of the water as well by California, who passed a paid family leave law and has seen 90 percent positive or neutral affects from the law.

OLIVER: It seems paid paternity is a bit like having hockey on in the background at a bar. It's not hurting anyone and a couple of people are actually really into it. So in California, it worked and yet only two other states have followed their lead.

Oliver then took a shot at the hypocritical Republican lawmakers in Minnesota, who all proclaimed to love their mothers in a series of video posts distributed for Mother's Day, but voted against the Women's Economic Security Act, which was similar to the legislation passed in California protecting working mothers.

OLIVER: It is interesting that Rep. Dan Hall mother taught him that there's two sides to every story, because you might like to know that he and every other lawmaker you just saw, voted against that bill.

And you can't have it both ways. You can't go on and on about how much you love mothers and then fail to support legislation that makes life easier for them.

In fact, until we, as a country, do something to address this, this should be the only message that we're allowed to send on Mother's Day.

Cue Oliver and his crew's PSA on working moms and paternity leave.

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