This Note will discuss the current status of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the drawbacks of having an unpaid federal leave program. It will explore the inability of the current federal program to achieve the fundamental goal of enabling workers to take time off of work to bond with a newborn child, to tend to an ill relative, or to allow time for recuperation of the employee's own serious health condition. In discussing this shortfall, this Note will focus on the impractical expectation that an employee in one of these situations will be able to spend up to three months without pay at a time when, arguably, more money is needed to overcome adversity. In examining the current weaknesses in the FMLA, Section III will review the paid leave programs that other countries have implemented, as well as the comprehensive family leave law that was recently adopted in California. After considering the paid leave programs that have been implemented elsewhere, Section IV will include suggestions on ways to reform the FMLA by creating financial protection for qualified employees while avoiding the negative economic impact on businesses that a paid leave program could introduce. These suggestions will be made by outlining an employee-funded program that will not require a burdensome federal commitment. In conclusion, Section V of this Note will discuss methods of effectively avoiding the abuse of this program that most business owners fear.
Note, Family and Medical Leave Act Reform: Is Paid Leave the Answer, 51 Clev. St. L. Rev. 65 (2004)