Paid maternity leave One of the more challenging situations faced by Caribbean migrants to South Florida, and other regions in the US, is that in several instances women do not receive paid maternity leave. Several families have been hard pressed to make ends meet financially, when their women leave their jobs to have their babies. The absence of paid maternity leave hase forced several women to return to work within a few weeks after giving birth.However, the Palm Beach County Commission is taking steps to remedy the situation in that county, joining a similar policy in other South Florida municipalities.At a recent commission meeting, the county staff was directed to draft a policy which would essentially provide six weeks fully paid leave to county non-unionized employees. The leave would be for the proposes not only of child birth, but also for adoption or foster-home placement.The proposed county policy was initially tabled by Commissioner Melissa McKinley, who was forced to return to her job when she was employed by Sarasota County even through her newly born child was sick, shortly after she gave birth.Florida law does not require or offer paid maternity leave. Employers are free to do what they deem best for their business. They can offer a voluntary option, which allows workers to participate via payroll deduction.As a result, there is no consistent policy for maternity leave in South Florida, although Federal law requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid maternity/paternity leave.Some private companies offer a combination of full and reduced paid maternity leave; some only significantly reduced paid leave; and some maternity leave without pay. Other companies offer stay accumulated paid-time-off (PTO) which can be used towards maternity or paternity leave for childbirth or for parents to attend to their sick kids when needed.Kahlila Bertram, a Caribbean American social worker in Palm Beach County, said she “continues to find it shocking that neither the federal or Florida government have a policy that makes maternity leave mandatory. Even in the struggling Caribbean nations, and right next door in Canada, maternity leave is mandatory.”Other South Florida municipalities that offer paid maternity leave to employees, include Miami Beach, Doral, West Palm Beach, Wellington. Miami-Dade County also have implemented the policy.