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Will paid parental leave one day be required under federal law?

Having time to take for one’s own health, or the health and well-being of family members, is critical for work-life balance, and there are laws in place to help ensure that employees do have the ability to take time for family and medical leave. At the federal level, there is the Family and Medical Leave Act as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  

These laws, as important as they are to protecting employees’ right to attend to family and medical leave issues, offer only limited protections when it comes to taking leave from work. Specifically, they do not provide for paid family and medical leave. While businesses are free, in most places, to offer greater protections to employees, they are not required by law to do so, at least not yet. 

Recent events suggest that it is possible the federal government may be moving toward requiring paid parental leave. One of these occurrences is an executive order issued last year which requires some businesses which contract with the federal government to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave, as well as paid family leave. Also last year, there was the introduction of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act in the house of representatives, which would have required businesses to provide workers up to 12 weeks of partial pay during leave to certain family and medical leave matters. The bill has yet to gain widespread support, but some say it could do so in the future depending on the next presidential administration.

Another movement in the direction of requiring paid leave is a piece of guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. We’ll take a look at this in our next post, as well as the importance of understanding one’s leave rights as an employee

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