family leave, social policy permitting workers to take a specified amount of time off from the job to attend to pressing family needs. The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (1993) attempts to balance family and work obligations. This law, which covers companies with 50 or more workers and employees with at least a year of service, mandates up to 12 weeks of leave per year for various family medical emergencies and for the birth or adoption of a child. It also stipulates that the employers must continue to provide health care benefits and that returning workers must be given their old job or an equivalent position. Many states also have family leave laws, and in many European countries and Japan, longer periods of paid leave are common.