Category Archives: Family & Work

Flexible Work Arrangements and Low-Wage Work: Creating Opportunity for Low-Wage Workers

Source: The New America Foundation, July 8, 2009

Low-wage workers are some of America’s most vulnerable workers. In addition to the problem of having low wages, many have little input into the hours that they work and many have unpredictable work schedules, with the timing and amount of work hours fluctuating from week to week. A cascade of negative consequences can flow from being unable to alter work schedules or know them in advance – including unstable child care; difficulty accessing work supports and job training; transportation problems; inability to hold down a second job; loss of wages and job loss.

Flexible work arrangements (FWAs) – including both employee input into scheduling and predictable work schedules – are an important part of the solution to these problems for low-wage workers and for employers. Come join the New America Foundation’s Workforce and Family Program and Workplace Flexibility 2010 of Georgetown University Law Center as our panelists present the latest research on scheduling challenges faced by low-wage workers, highlight common sense solutions that have been implemented by businesses and discuss how public policy can enhance access to FWAs for low-wage workers.

See also:
Low-Wage Schedules and the Child Care Struggle
Source: Lisa Guernsey, Early Ed Watch blog, New America Foundation, July 9, 2009
Public Policy Platform on Flexible Work Arrangements
Source: Workplace Flexibility 2010, May 2009

No Paid Leave for New Moms

Source: Elise Gould, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, May 6, 2009

This Mother’s Day we reflect on the critical but often overlooked issue of maternity leave. Among peer countries with comparable per capita income (i.e., those in the G7), the United States provides the fewest mandated maternity leave benefits in both length of leave and amount of paid time off.

The PDA’s Causation Effect: Observations of an Unreasonable Woman

Source: Michelle A. Travis, Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Forthcoming

From the abstract:
While many scholars rightfully have critiqued the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) as falling short of achieving the ultimate goal of equal employment opportunities for women, this Article reveals one of the PDA’s most important successes. By recognizing pregnant women as a given in the workplace, the PDA launched a quiet revolution in the way that judges make causal attributions for adverse employment outcomes. Specifically, the PDA provided judges with the conceptual tools that were needed to help shift causal attributions to an employer, rather than attributing a pregnant woman’s struggles in the workplace to her own decision to become a mother. Because our notions of responsibility follow our notions of causation, this shift in causal attribution enabled judges to more easily identify employers as legally responsible for the misfit between the conventional workplace and working women’s lives. While this causal attribution shift has been incomplete, it at least laid the foundation for ongoing conversations about how the law might achieve even deeper structural and organizational transformations in the workplace looking forward. By revealing the PDA’s causation transformation story, this Article seeks to shore up that foundation for future efforts at designing workplaces more fully around a caregiving worker norm.

Paid Sick Time Helps Workers Balance Work and Family

Source: Kristin Smith, Carsey Institute, New England Issue Brief No. 11, Spring 2009

Working families across New Hampshire are nervously watching the flu season, hoping they or a family member will be spared this year. For the 26 percent of New Hampshire workers (excluding the self-employed) who do not have paid sick days, however, a sick child or a bout with the flu forces a difficult decision: stay home and lose wages or possibly even your job, or go to work sick or send your sick child to day care or school and put the health of others at risk. This choice is particularly salient during these times of record high unemployment and job layoffs. No one wants to risk appearing less devoted or committed to their job. Workers are all too aware of the instability in the job market, the potential for their employer to be the next casualty in this economic recession, and the long queue of the ready-to-work unemployed.

Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, April 21, 2009

In 2007, EEOC issued guidance explaining the circumstances under which discrimination against workers with caregiving responsibilities might constitute discrimination based on sex, disability or other characteristics protected by federal employment discrimination laws.

This document supplements the 2007 guidance by providing suggestions for best practices that employers may adopt to reduce the chance of EEO violations against caregivers, and to remove barriers to equal employment opportunity. Best practices are proactive measures that go beyond federal non-discrimination requirements.

LEARN WorkFamily

Source: Labor Project for Working Families, March 2009

The Labor Project for Working Families announces LEARN WorkFamily – a FREE online labor education and resource network to help unions build a family friendly workplace culture. LEARN WorkFamily features the nation’s only online database of contract language on work family issues such as family leave, childcare, elder care, flexible work options, adoption, bereavement leave and much more.

Visit LEARN WorkFamily today to:

Search the online database for negotiated work family contract provisions on a wide variety of topics.

  • Get tips on bargaining for work family benefits.
  • Learn techniques to build a progressive and successful work family agenda.
  • Download resources.
  • Read and share stories about work family bargaining wins.

The Limits of Work-Based Social Support in the United States

Source: Heather Boushey and Chris Tilly, Challenge, Vol. 52 no. 2, March-April, 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The authors provide an excellent overview of the nation’s social safety net. They find in particular that it neglects the working poor. What follows is a comprehensive look at what social programs the United States has and what it needs for a changing society as a new president takes office.

Federal and State Family Caregiving Legislation: Trends in 2007 – 2008

Source: Family Caregiver Alliance, 2009

Our nation’s health and long-term care systems face severe challenges. Millions of Americans are uninsured, and millions more with chronic illnesses and disabilities lack the personal resources or access to public programs needed to obtain critical long-term care services. At the heart of these challenges are the nation’s 44 million family caregivers, working under often strenuous circumstances to provide their older or ailing family members, friends, and neighbors the care they need. Yet, if families and friends are to continue in this role as the backbone of our long-term care system, a variety of policy solutions are needed to address person and family-centered care.

Implications of the Family and Medical Leave Act for Local Governments: Helping Administrators Understand the Law

Source: P. Edward French, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 29 no. 1, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993 to help full-time employees balance the conflicting demands of their work and personal lives. Private employers with 50 or more employees (at a single work site) and all federal, state, and local government employers are required to comply with the act. Since its inception, many local governments have been sued for violations of its guidelines. This research provides case examples from across the United States to illustrate why many local governments have faced litigation under this act. Several cases filed against cities and counties over the past 7 years are discussed. The intent of this analysis is to highlight many of the legal rights and protections that the FMLA affords to local government employees, to provide a practical understanding and guide for compliance with the requirements of this employment legislation.

Meeting the Needs of the Youngest Infants in Child Care

Source: Amanda Perez and Sandy Petersen, Zero to Three, Vol. 29 no. 3, January 2009
(subscription required)

Children may enter group care at very young ages. Developmentally, newborns (from birth to 4 months old) offer unique opportunities and challenges for child care providers. Are child care programs ready? This article explores the challenges of serving a newborn in child care from three perspectives: that of the infant, that of the parents, and that of the caregiver. Particular attention is given to fussy babies. Recommendations are offered for child care administrators, family support practitioners, child care trainers, and policymakers.