Policymaking and Paid Family Leave: Revitalizing the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to all public agencies, public schools, private elementary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. It is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. However, the FMLA has proven to be ineffective in meeting the needs of employees. This study examined 2012 U.S. Department of Labor FMLA surveys published by Abt Associates. The public-use file was examined to determine employee eligibility, employee awareness of the program, and leave-taking patterns. Following, this paper discussed the theoretical framework of public-policy intersectionality, social movement theory, and political mediation to discuss best practices in passing enhanced FMLA legislation. The study found that an ideal combination of political conditions, Democratic Party control of both houses, and advocacy paired with unions would further policy adoption of an updated FMLA policy.