Is a National Policy for Paid Parental Leave Possible in the United States?
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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was created in 1993 to address social and economic changes in the American family structure. This provision provided new parents with the opportunity to take up to twelve unpaid weeks off of work after the birth or adoption of a child. FMLA also guaranteed the employees’ position and rate of pay upon return to work. The policy, according to congress, was enacted to protect and promote family/work balance and encourage stronger, healthier families. To be eligible, the employee must have worked at least 1250 hours during a twelve month period (Magill, 2015). Since the inception of FMLA, poverty has risen and the poverty gap has widened. Many American families live in poverty, decreasing the opportunity for new parents to utilize FMLA due to budgeting concerns. This places pressures on women to return to work as soon as possible when they are the primary breadwinners, and decreases opportunities for fathers to access parental leave. In this sense, the work/family balance becomes more difficult for lower and middle class families, and provides fewer opportunities for those infants to develop stronger bonds and stronger developmental skills than families without economic constraints. The creation and implementation of a national policy for paid maternity and paternity leave in the United States will positively impact the family unit, resulting in an overall positive social and economic impact for the country. This report seeks to explain the social and economic impact of the creation of a national policy for paid maternity and paternity leave, as well as analyze policies in other developed countries.
Capstone paper from 2015 spring MPA program. Instructed by Allen Zagoren.