This weekend brought Mother's Day in the United States, and with it, a barrage of ads from brands of every stripe, designed to get you to buy their mom-themed products. But while these companies publicly venerate mothers to sell cards, gifts, and decorative baseball-themed flowerpots, they won't give those same people paid maternity leave when they actually give birth. That's because the US, as John Oliver states incredulously in the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, is one of only two countries in the world that doesn't offer paid leave as standard for new mothers.
Where countries such as Sweden offer a year-and-a-half of paid time off on the birth of a child, to be split between parents, US federal law gives workers just 12 weeks of maternity leave — all of which is unpaid, and comes with some strict limits. While some companies have implemented their own rules to ensure new mothers are supported — Facebook, for example, offers 17 weeks paid leave for both parents and $4,000 in benefits — the regulations are far from standard. And it's not just companies working to restrict the opportunities for new mothers: Oliver highlights the hypocrisy of politicians who appear in public to thank moms everywhere, while doing their best to halt legislation that might help mothers have children without having to choose whether to go back to work the week after their baby is born or give up their jobs.