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Three years paid maternity leave?

How long do you think paid maternity leave should be? Three months? Six months? A year?

A Chinese delegate proposed to raise paid maternity leave in the country from 98 days to three years. Wang Youjun, a deputy of the Beijing People’s Congress and chairman of Beijing Watchdata System Co., said mothers are important in the first three years of a babies lives and that they should have the option to focus on raising their children and then come back to their career.

Yahoo Senior Columnist Michael Santoli said this proposal isn’t part of a broad movement in China and goes against some labor market priorities in the country. “They need full participation. They want full participation of women as well as men,” he said. “So I don’t think [the proposal’s] really got a great shot.“

Paid maternity leave varies from country to country, but three years would be the longest by far, according to data from the United Nation’s 2011 report on the Progress of the World's Women. While China currently gives at least 90 days of paid leave, “In the United States, it’s zero,” said Santoli. The Family & Medical Leave Act allows 12 weeks for a parent to stay home and care for a baby, but those weeks are unpaid. (California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, however, offer paid family leave.)

Santoli said U.S. private companies increasingly offer paid time off to spend with newborns, but the Chinese proposal is another indication that maternity leave is considered a strategic priority in other countries, but not here in the U.S.

“All they do is say, you can take the time off and not get fired,” he said of the U.S. law.

What do you think about the Chinese proposal for three years of maternity leave? Should paid maternity leave be mandatory in the U.S.? Should paternity leave be paid, too? Leave us a comment below or on Twitter.

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