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The Family And Medical Leave Act Turns 20

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, “Sound Medicine” takes a closer look at the groundbreaking legislation that first addressed the delicate balance between work and everyday life. FMLA allows employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for maternity, caregiving or medical purposes. Kenneth Matos, Ph.D., who is a senior director at the Families and Work Institute, says that although the leave is designed to help individuals and families facing emergencies, it may not protect everyone. In the United States, over 40 percent of workers do not qualify for FMLA benefits because of rigid constraints included in the act. Many part-time employees, those working for a small business or those who have worked for less than a year do not qualify. Although companies like Yahoo and Best Buy offer paid maternity leave for mothers, the United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t require it. In response, a coalition of over 20 states have gone above and beyond the FMLA benefits and now require paid sick days for all.