Should women who don't have children be able to take maternity leave?
Author Meghann Foye, 38, sparked criticism after her new book, "Meternity", was published. The fictional novel is about a 31-year old woman who fakes a pregnancy so "she'll get what she perceives is the rights and privileges of the moms on staff" Foye explained to CNBC's "On the Money" in an interview.
The book was inspired in part by Foye's own self-financed sabbatical, which she took around the time many of her friends and co-workers were having children.
The New York Post ran a story about Foye's break—using the attention grabbing headline "I want all the perks of maternity leave—without having any kids." The story sparked online outrage, as well as a broader discussion.
The novelist, however, said the New York Post misinterpreted her message.
"It was really just meant to be my personal story—and I had called it a 'meternity leave' but basically just as a joke to myself because all my friends were having kids," she said.
Maternity leave is already a controversial topic in the U.S., which is the only developed nation without federally mandated paid maternity leave. Times are changing, however as workplaces to some degree have become more flexible.
This year, San Francisco became the first city to require fully paid parental leave, and New York joined California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island in requiring paid time off state-wide. Media giant Netflix offers unlimited paid parental leave for the child's first year.
Yet, according to the Department of Labor, only 12 percent of U.S. employees actually get paid family leave from their employer.