Working Parents' Lack of Access to Paid Leave and Workplace Flexibility

Source: Sarah Jane Glynn, Center for American Progress, November 20, 2012

From the summary:
In 1975, only a generation ago, more than half of American families with children (52.6 percent) comprised a male breadwinner and a female homemaker. In 2011 just one in five families fit that configuration (20.7 percent), while single parents headed one in three households (31.9 percent), and the remaining families consisted of two working parents. When all the adults in a family are employed, it not only means that there is no one at home to sign for packages or wait for the refrigerator repairperson to arrive–it also more importantly means that there is often no one home to provide care when children get sick. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, dual-income families in the 2000s were 10 times more likely than single-income families in the 1970s to have a wage-earner miss work in order to care for a sick child.

…Unlike every other advanced economy, the United States does not guarantee workers the right to paid sick days or paid parental leave after the arrival of a new child. Other economies such as Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland are excelling while guaranteeing leave benefits for workers. There is no good reason why the United States should not follow suit, and steps should be taken to implement the following:
– Workplace policies that would promote flexibility such as those promoted by the White House
– A national paid family and medical leave insurance program such as the program proposed by the Center for American Progress
– Paid leave legislation such as the Healthy Families Act, which would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days per year

These policies would go a long way to help bring our nation up to speed and would allow working mothers and fathers to be both good workers and good parents. This brief focuses on how vital these benefits can be to our nation’s workers, beginning with paid leave.

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