Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Information

81 Cal. L. Rev. 531 (1993)


The United States and Italy have taken quite different approaches toward providing legal protections for working parents. This Article uses a comparative perspective to highlight crucial aspects of the American legal and cultural attitudes towards parental leave. The author demonstrates how deeply rooted beliefs about equality, work, and family life have influenced the development of parental leave law. In particular, the Article describes how Italian law rests on notions of fundamental social equality, as well as on views concerning the importance of the interests of children and the family. As a result of this broad conception of the interests involved, Italy provides a great deal of benefits to aid in the support of childbirth and childrearing. In contrast, the author suggest that American legal developments have been based on a cramped deliberation over the issue of gender discrimination, which in turn has led to narrow judicial debates such as how pregnancy might be construed as analogous to a disability. While in recent years there has been some expansion of American parental leave benefits, the author contends that judicial doctrine and governmental benefits have been limited by the original legal framing of the debate. The author suggests that recent statutory developments in the United States are important precisely because they may provide the basis for a more expansive conceptual foundation for this area of law.


Reprinted with permission of the California Law Review.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.