A missing piece in the U.S. social insurance system
Paid family and medical leave is receiving increased attention in the United States by policymakers, employers, media, and the public. Family leave encompasses several distinct types of leave, including leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child (generally referred to as parental leave), as well as leave to care for a family member with a serious illness, whether that be a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or other relative. In contrast to other types of leave—in particular, parental leave, which has been studied extensively—family care leave receives much less attention in existing research. Its inclusion in policy proposals is also uneven. While each of the paid family and medical leave laws at the state level includes family care leave, national proposals diverge on this point.
The unmet need for leave to care for a family member with a serious illness is actually more widespread and more frequent than it is for the other types of family leave. This paper focuses on reviewing what we know and do not know about family care leave. In particular, this paper contributes to an understanding of the need for paid leave to care for a seriously ill family member and the current state of policy and research. In light of the evidence, we offer implications for policy and future research.
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