Moving Forward from the FAMILY Act: Implications for Working Women, Business, and Contemporary Conditions of Caretaking Labor

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By Kelly Chen

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In response to the historical rise of women in the workforce, Congress asserted Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that aimed to preserve women’s employment status through mandating unpaid parental leave. While still in force today, the Act fails to adequately deliver its promise to resolve the difficult choice women face between work and family care. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) unsuccessfully sought to provide a comprehensive, national paid parental leave program. This Note argues that a national paid leave program should be resurrected to ameliorate the gender disparity embedded in conditions of parental caretaking. The Note examines the historical development of the FAMILY Act through discussion of FMLA’s goals and limits. Additionally, the Note analyzes popular arguments put forth by the FAMILY Act’s supporters and critics and explains how the Act would have positively affected women and businesses alike. Most significantly, the Note concludes that efforts towards implementing a national paid parental leave program are necessary to address structural imbalances between gender, family, and work that flow from modern American workplace inequality.