Leave Management, Policy, and Compliance

The Changing Landscape of Parental Leave: Paid Family Leave Legislation and EEOC Policy Guidance

By Kevin Green, JD, Fennemore Craig

According to a recent study, the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not require private sector employers to provide paid parental leave for employees. That same study concluded that the United States is one of only three countries in the world that does not mandate paid parental leave. The other two countries are Suriname and Papua New Guinea.

In the absence of generally applicable federal law mandating paid parental leave, a patchwork of paid leave laws is developing at the state and municipal levels. For instance, California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island have enacted laws that permit employees to obtain compensation during periods of family or medical leave. The city of San Francisco also has passed an ordinance that will require certain employers to provide some compensation for employees who take leaves of absence to bond with a new child.

In recent months, however, various actions have occurred at the federal level that touch upon parental leave. The remainder of this article discusses two such developments—the proposed Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues.

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