Most readers know that under the Family Medical Leave Act, employees are eligible to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a new baby or an immediate family member who is ill. However, because of restrictions on the law (size of the company, for one), about 40 percent of American workers qualify for the leave. Some employees are also lucky enough to have jobs that will pay them for a portion of that time, but many must have a difficult decision to stay home and care for a loved one and forgo pay. The main benefit of taking leave under the FMLA is that it is job-protected, so an employer cannot replace you while you are gone and cannot discriminate against you or punish you when you return.
Paid family medical leave exists in other countries around the world but until recently has largely been out of the question in terms of a mandate for employers. However, recent actions by a few states indicate that the tide may be turning and that paid family medical leave could become a legal right in the near future. Some in Congress are also supporting a move towards federally guaranteed paid leave.
Elsewhere in the world, families are given up to a year of paid leave from their jobs, which parents are free to divide between themselves as they see fit. This can be highly beneficial for children and their parents as they form important bonds that will last for life.
Source: Washington Post, “States make moves toward paid family leave,” Brigid Schulte, Jan. 2, 2014.