American businesses offer numerous ways to celebrate Mother’s Day – from MLB attendance giveaways to free meals at chain restaurants. “What better way to honor the woman who gave you life than to take her to Hooters?” John Oliver cracks in the above segment from Sunday’s Last Week Tonight. But instead of tote bags and hot wings, workplaces owe moms adequate family leave – a benefit few new mothers receive in the U.S.
As Oliver notes, the United States and Papua New Guinea are the only countries in the world that don’t provide paid time off for new mothers. Federal law offers workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and there are strict requirements – like having to be a full-time salaried employee. In total, 40 percent of American workers are not covered, which forces some new mothers to get creative – scraping together sick time and unpaid vacation time. “Mothers shouldn’t have to stitch together time to recover from childbirth the same way we plan four-day weekends in Atlantic City,” Oliver observes.
Certain states have shown progress: In 2002, California adopted a plan providing six weeks of partially paid leave – and though it cost little to employers, with surveys indicating some businesses showed positive effects, the concept still hasn’t caught on at a national level.
“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,” Oliver says, transitioning into a hilarious satirical PSA about new mothers in the workplace.
“Remember, not only can you balance work and family – you have to,” reads a narrator, over scenes of women pumping breast milk in parking lots and hiding their babies in desk drawers. “You deserve the very best, moms – you’re just not gonna get it.”