The Family and Medical Leave Act isn’t just for women anymore.
According to a report by Tresa Baldas, more men have been asserting their right to care for their family members under the Act. The law, passed in 1993, provides covered employees 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave to care for themselves or their immediate family members. The Act also prevents employers from retaliating against employees who act to assert their rights under the law.
Some credit the men’s movement with sparking male interest in the law. They argue that single dads, and dads who just want to be involved with their kids’ lives, see the law as giving them shield to be more responsible with their children. On the other end of the spectrum, more men are using their leave to take care of ailing parents who can no longer take care of themselves.
Employers who illegally retaliate against their employees are finding it increasingly more expensive to do so. When an employer retaliated against a man who took time off to care for his ailing parents a jury returned a verdict in favor of the man to the tune of $11 million dollars.
Men taking time off does not implicate other laws, like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which protect women from pregnancy discrimination. But it is a positive sign that more men are exercising leave they are entitled to use. And it can’t hurt their kids either.