Paid Maternity Benefits; Charitable Giving; Group Refuses to Accept Donations

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January 4, 2001

Lawmakers in Switzerland recently approved a measure that will require work places to give paid maternity leave benefits to women. This legislation marks a milestone in a worldwide controversy over the issue of government mandated maternity benefits. With the Swiss legislation, Australia, New Zealand and the United States are the only remaining countries where the law does not require companies to pay maternity leave and health benefits. Several times over the past twenty years, the Swiss have voted against enforcing the Swiss constitution, which includes maternity benefits. Opponents argued that women already receive social benefits and if they receive more it would drain state funds. Currently, Swiss law mandates that a woman take eight weeks of vacation time after the birth of her child, however it does not guarantee that she will be paid a salary during that period since, in the absence of a company policy, maternity benefits are negotiated individually. In the United States, federal law requires 12 weeks of unpaid leave for women in companies with 50 or more employees, but not everyone eligible for the leave takes the full twelve weeks. The United States has never required paid leave. The main objections to paid leave are (1) the increased load of federal regulations on small companies and (2) the possibility that paid leave requirements would be a devastating burden to many small companies. The vote in Switzerland means that this issue will, no doubt, be brought before the United States Congress during the second Bush Administration.

Charitable Giving
“There is more need for philanthropy than ever before.” said Rob McKay in “Got More? Give More.” He says, “new figures from the Congressional Budget Office reveal that the gap between the rich and poor in this country is the widest in history, having doubled since 1977.” He also notes that a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reveals, “homelessness is rising at its fastest pace in five years.” Charitable giving is significantly lower in recent years. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Charitable Giving: Good but We Can Do Better,” Albert R. Hunt quotes a study by the Federal Reserve Board‘s survey of consumer finances saying, “the second poorest quintile of households by income contribute about 1.3 percent of their income to charity while the very wealthiest donate less than one-half of 1 percent.”

Group Refuses to Accept Donations
Community HIV & AIDS Prevention Strategy (CHAPS) a nonprofit Florida group that provides food for those suffering from HIV/AIDS, will not accept food donations given by the Boy Scouts’ annual food drive. The Boy Scouts had given to the group for the past six years, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. A member from CHAPS stated that the Boy Scouts’ policy, refusing to admit gay Scout leaders, is “doubly bad, because, under the guise of morality, the Scouts are teaching our young, at a very early age, the most immoral of human emotions-hate.” A director from the Boy Scouts said they were “disappointed” that CHAPS would refuse any help they would offer.

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