The Adverse Effects of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on Women
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
To support this argument, the first section of this paper introduces the reader to a background about the FMLA as a federal policy, its eligibility conditions, why its use by women has expanded, and how it turns to be one of the causes of gender inequality in the workforce. This leads to a discussion of the Merton’s Manifest and Latent Functions theory and how it applies precisely to the case of the FMLA and its effects on the employment outcomes of women. Using this theory, I will discuss the anticipated consequences of the FMLA and the potential benefits on its beneficiaries, as well as its unanticipated consequences and adverse effects on women. I will conclude by using Merton’s Manifest and Latent Functions theory to discuss five of the main adverse effects of the FMLA on women. First, women are observed to be the higher takers of FMLA compared to men (Boushey and Glynn, 2012), which leads to increased issues of wage inequality between men and women in the workplace. Second, the act was first passed to account for gender equality among both working men and women. However, men achieve higher positions and greater pay and compensation than women. Third, research suggests that there are many women who are unable to take advantage of the FMLA despite their eligibility, due to the fact that they cannot live without pay for a long period of time, because of the financial difficulties they will face if they take it. Fourth, the limited eligibility requirements under this policy left many families with no coverage. Finally, there are incidents of inequality in the promotions and career advancement decisions practiced on women, who return to work after taking FMLA leave, which forced them to exist the work early, notably mothers and single parents.