The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) marks its 16th anniversary today (Feb. 5, 2009) in a beefed-up version that now allows family of service members to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their relatives in the military. Of course, provisions for 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for oneself or one’s family, or for the birth or adoption of a child, are still on the books.

Some 7 million of the FMLA-eligible 77.1 million workers took leave in 2005, the latest year for which statistics have been released.

As I was reading up on FMLA today, one other statistic stuck out, courtesy of a group called AAUW, to wit:

A 2008 study by the Institute for Health and Social Policy found that only five of the 173 countries surveyed did not guarantee at least some form of paid maternity leave to its workers. These countries are Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland, Papua New Guinea, and our very own USA. Illustrious company, to say the least.

August company to say the very least when you figure that 98 of these countries offer at least 14 weeks of paid leave.