I come from a middle class background. My parents are college educated and both had decades long, successful careers. My mother was lucky enough, after the birth of her children, to be able to have a reasonable paid maternity leave before returning to work. Many new mothers are not so lucky.
The United States is the only industrialized country in which there is no mandatory nation wide maternity or paternity leave.
At best, a new mother, depending on her employer, may get part of her regular salary or receive short term disability. At worst, she and her partner or spouse (if she not a single parent) are forced to live on one salary until she can return to work.
Laughing Planet Café is a chain of restaurants in Oregon and Nevada. The owner has instituted a 3 month paid parental leave for their employees. This is an extraordinary move not just in the restaurant industry, but in the business world.
While I understand that some businesses may feel hesitant about offering fully paid parental leave to their employee, it will in the end benefit both the employer and the employee.
An employee who feels respected and appreciated by their employer (especially if he or she is a new parent) will not only come back to work, but they will return eager and able to work. An employee, regardless of whether or not they are parents, who feels like they are not appreciated or respected has a higher chance of changing jobs and forcing the employer to spend more money on hiring and training a new employee.
Working mothers and working parents deserve the respect from their employers. They deserve paid maternity leave. They deserve the ability to be able to be home with their newborns for a reasonable amount of time and still earn their paycheck.