2015 ho uston journal of international law provide

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2015]
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HO USTON JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW provide for paid family leave. 9 1 Other deficiencies are less obvious, such as FMLA's limited applicability, which disparately impacts low-income parents who are more likely to work for employers who are not covered by FMLA, 92 and FMLA's gender-neutrality, which serves to perpetuate longstanding sex stereotypes related to work and family. 9 3 IV. THE ICELAND ACT ON MATERNITY/PATERNITY AND PARENTAL LEAVE An examination of family leave law in Iceland reveals a number of ways in which FMLA could be altered to better fulfill its purpose of aiding parents in balancing work and family. 9 4 Family leave from employment in Iceland is governed by the Iceland Act on Maternity/Paternity and Parental Leave ("Iceland Act"). 95 This act was implemented in 2000 and has been amended a number of times, with the most recent amendment in 2012.96 The stated aims of the Act are "to ensure a child's access to both his/her parents" and to "enable both women and men to reconcile work and family life." 97 The law was intended to promote gender equality by facilitating equal participation of both genders in the workplace and in managing childcare duties. 98 Through this act, the Icelandic government 91. See Pelletier, supra note 2, at 558-60 (noting that the majority of Americans cannot afford to take unpaid leave, and discussing the hardships of working mothers). 92. See, e.g., Anthony, supra note 13, at 474-75 (stating that employees who work for businesses not covered by FMLA tend to be less affluent and those who are more financially stable tend to work for larger establishments that are covered by the statute). 93. See id. at 472-73 (noting that there is a stereotypical belief that childcare is "women's work only"). 94. See Family Medical Leave Act (FMIA) of 1993, 29 U.S.C. § 2601(b)(1) (2012) (stating that one purpose of the FMLA is to balance workplace demands with family needs). 95. Act on Maternity/Paternity Leave and Parental Leave (Act No. 95/2000) (Ice.) [hereinafter Iceland Act]. 96. Id. (indicating the last amendment to be No. 143/2012). 97. Id. § I, art. 2. 98. See Svala Jonsdottir, National Report on the Icelandic Experience of Parental Leave Provision, in REPORTS: THE PARENTAL LEAVE SYSTEM IN ICELAND 6, 9 (2008) (noting that one of the stated goals of the Act was to "ensure that children get to spend time with both parents"); see also Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men (Act No. 10/2008), § 1, arts. 1(e), 21 (Ice.) ("promot[ing] gender equality in all [Vol. 37:1
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ENCOURAGING WORK-FAMIL Y BALANCE has likewise demonstrated a commitment to preventing parents' financial instability due to childbirth by ensuring that parental leave is paid. 99 The original law provided for three non-transferrable months of leave for each parent independently and three months jointly to be distributed as the parents chose.
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