The United States occupies many first place positions in the world, most powerful military, biggest economy and most influential culture. However, there is one place it sits dead last, paid family leave from work. The U.S. is the only developed economy not to require paid family leave. Families every day are forced into impossible choices between caring for a sick child or elderly parent and going to work. For most of these workers, missing work is not an option. This article will discuss these numbers, how it affects you and explore any trends signaling a shift in perspective.

This zero figure, while shocking, does not mean that no one in the U.S. gets paid family leave. About 12 percent of the American workforce enjoys this benefit. However, the sector of workers who need this paid family leave the most receive the least amount of voluntary coverage by their employers. So the real battle is in expanding access to paid family leave on a statewide and nationwide scale.

To promote that goal, the Department of Labor is awarding $1.55 million in grants to research how to develop and implement a paid family leave program in the U.S. This money, albeit small in terms of government grants, is still a step toward that eventual goal of not being dead last among wealthier countries.

If your employer offers you paid family leave and refuses to pay you for your missed time, then you may want to consult with a lawyer. The federal government does provide protections for workers who do have these benefits. These protections ensure that your employer cannot capriciously end your benefits just because you appear to be ready to activate them. Don’t let a cheap boss deny you your rights.