Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States was the only highly-developed nation in the world not to guarantee paid family and medical leave (PFML) for its citizens. In 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, Congress passed temporary PFML to alleviate the hardship on families forced to choose between health and a paycheck. That legislation is no longer in effect. Many interest groups and lawmakers feel that the COVID-19 crisis has finally presented the moment to make PFML permanent in the United States. Yet, other conservative and pro-business groups resist the idea. The dynamics unfolding over the future of PFML are highly reminiscent of a policy debate that took place during the 1980s and 1990s over the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). The current debate over PFML provides a fortuitous opportunity to look back and learn from history. First, this Note suggests that the legislative history of the FMLA provides an insightful model of bipartisanship and coalition-building that should inform present PFML policy-making. Second, this Note gives an instructive comparison of the corporate and political landscape in the 1980s versus 2020s to frame these policies. Finally, this Note offers potential solutions for the roadblocks to PFML imposed by the business community, which mirror similar pushbacks against the FMLA three decades ago.
Caroline M. Gelinne, A Trip Down Legislative Memory Lane: How the FMLA Charts a Path for Post-COVID-19 Paid Leave Reform, 62 B.C. L. Rev. 2515 (2021), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol62/iss7/8