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Good Question: How Much Parental Leave Do We Take?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
Heather Brown loves to put her innate curiosity to work to answer yo...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Twins pitcher Brian Duensing is back with the team Thursday night after taking three days of paternity leave to be with his wife and their new baby.

Under a union contract, major league players are allowed to miss up to three games.

So, that had us wondering: How much parental leave do we take?

First things first: the law. There’s federal law, and then there’s state law.

The Federal Family Medical Leave Act requires companies with more than 50 employees to give 12 weeks unpaid leave if an employee has been there for a year.

“It’s only about half of the working population,” said Jill Hasday, who teaches family law at the University of Minnesota.

She says that the law basically promises people that they have a right to come back to their jobs.

“They’re not giving you a salary while you’re gone,” she added.

Also, Hasday said that these laws apply to mothers and fathers alike.

The state law expands that to smaller companies, requiring six weeks of unpaid leave for workplaces with more than 21 employees.

Unlike in other countries, there is no legal right to paid leave in the United States. But most people can’t afford to take unpaid leave, Hasday said.

In 2009, 51 percent of working moms got some paid leave, with sick time, vacation and disability. That’s up from 42 percent back in the 1990s.

About 70 percent of working women report taking maternity leave, meaning many don’t take any time at all.

The average length for maternity leave is 10 weeks, which puts the U.S. way at the bottom compared to other industrialized countries, many of which provide a year of paid leave.

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