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2 The legal and administrative contextof work and family leave and relatedpolicies in the USA, Canada and theEuropean UnionRichard N. Block, Martin H. Malin,Ellen Ernst Kossek and Angela HoltINTRODUCTIONCountries and cultures vary in the extent to which government is viewed asplaying a role in encouraging or mandating workplace practices to supportwork and family (Lewis and Haas, 2005). In a world in which corporationsoperate internationally, and in which employees and the unions that rep-resent them ®nd themselves in `competition' with employees in other coun-tries, it is important to understand international differences in social moresand employer implementation of work and family policies. For example,although over the last several decades the USA has generally become moreaccepting of women's participation in paid employment and of fathers'involvement in early child care, an implementation gap persists where manylegal and employer practices related to work and family have not fullycaught up to labor market and societal changes (Barnett, 1999; Lewis andHaas, 2005). In this chapter we describe and contrast legal and employerapproaches to work and family supports related to leave and time off fromwork for family, pregnancy and caregiving, in the USA, Canada, theEuropean Union (EU) and selected countries in the EU. While the ®eld ofwork and family has now broadened to include eldercare and time off fromwork for all employees regardless of whether they have caregiving respon-sibilities (Kossek and Lambert, 2005), due to space limitations, we focusour review on policies relating to leave and caregiving.Table 2.1 provides an overview of the provisions of leave policies bycountry that we will draw upon throughout this chapter. As the tableshows, for example, Canada and the countries of Europe have more exten-sive legally mandated family leave policies than the USA. As our review willsuggest, these differences in policy may be attributed partly to several keydifferences in contextual and institutional contexts (Lipset, 1989; Block etal., 2004). The differences between the USA and Canada and between theUSA and the countries in Europe are consistent with the ®ndings of otherresearch that demonstrate that Canada and the EU provide higher laborstandards to employees within their borders than the USA (Block, Robertsand Clarke, 2003; Block, Berg and Roberts, 2003).Table 2.1 Characteristics of parental leave in the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Norway and SwedenCountry Title of legislation Scope of coverage(bene®t and eligibility)Compensation rate Duration Job securityUSA Family and MedicalLeave Act of 1993(federal)Eligible employees for aneligible employer;abirth orcare of a child, adoption orfoster care placement, careemployee's spouse, parent orchild or because of theemployee's own illnessUnpaid 12 weeks Entitled to sameposition or one that isequivalent in pay,bene®ts and otherterms and conditionsof employmentUK No explicit familyleave policyThere are maternity andparental (same for paternity)bene®tsMaternity: paid (90%of salary for 6 weeksand then L100/weekfor 12 weeks).Parental: Unpaid18 weeksmaternity; 13weeks unpaidparentalEntitled to sameposition as beforeleaveCanada EmploymentStandards Legislation(federal); mostCanadian provinceshave separate HumanRights andEmploymentStandardsAmendmentsNew mothers and parents areentitled to the leave; maternityleave bene®ts can be receivedafter a 2-week waiting period55% (maternity: 15weeks; parental: up to35 weeks)17 weeksmaternityleave; 12±52weeks parentalleaveEntitled to sameposition withequivalent terms andconditions ofemploymentGermany The MaternityProtection Act(Mutterschutzgesetz)and Child Bene®t Act(Bundeserziehungsgel-dgesetz)Maternity and parental leavethat protects employees fromtermination, grants income,entitles employees to their jobupon return, and absencefrom work to raise a childState bene®ts paid forup to 24 months;EUR460 ($544 US) 1styear and EUR307($363) 2 yearsMaximum of 3yearsEntitled to return tosame position theemployee held beforeleave; may request areduction in workhours after the birth ofa childNorway N/A Parental leave entitles eitherparent to leave if they havebeen employed or self-employed for 6 of the past 10months; mothers who are notentitled to cash bene®tsreceive a `maternity grant'100% for 42 weeks or80% of salary for thefull year1 year; 3 yearsfor singleparentFull job protection;entitled to return tosame position theemployee held beforeleaveSweden The Swedish FamilyPolicyAll employees are entitled tothis leave; family leavebene®ts allow for a reducedwork schedule until a child is8 years oldPaid (90% of pay for®rst 12 months and¯at rate for additional3 months)Paid up to 15months;extended leaveup to 18monthsEntitled to sameposition employeeheld atcommencement ofleavea`Eligible employee' is an employee who has worked at least 12 months with 1250 hours of service to the employer; 'eligible employer' is any person engagedin commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce who employs 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendarworkweeks in the current or preceding calendar year (Family and Medical Leave Act, 1993; www.dol.gov).Also relevant, especially with respect to differences between the EU andUSA, is the role of trade unions in creating social policy. In the EU unionsare considered to be social partners with employers through corporatistarrangements and are full participants in the dialogue with employer groupsand governments around social (including employment) policy. The USA incontrast, takes more of a minimalist market-based employer approach inwhich markets are assumed to be competitive and in which employers havewide latitude to determine the level of support they will provide for thefamily-related needs of their employees. There is little or no employeerepresentation for work and family at the organizational level becauseof low unionization and the absence of employee representation at highgovernmental levels. Another contributing factor may be culturally based;consistent with its long-standing belief in individualism, the US culturetends to value approaches to employee caregiving determined by individualemployees and individual employers, with a limited role for governmentregulation (Block et al., 2004).The chapter is organized as follows. In the next three sections we providea review of the legal obligations and employer practices with a focus onfamily


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