Category Archives: Family & Work

The MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs – New Insights and Innovations for Reducing Health Care Costs for Employers

Source: Steven M. Albert, Richard Schulz, Alberto Colombi, MetLife, February 2010

From the summary:
Employees responsible for eldercare report more health problems than non-caregiving employees and cost U.S. employers an estimated $13 billion annually. Demographic trends indicate that a greater number of employees of all ages will assume the role of family caregiver for an increasingly older population. In combination, these trends mean that more employees will be dealing with eldercare issues. This brings to the forefront an urgent need for employers to actively address how to best facilitate the realities of employees dealing with eldercare responsibilities.

Key Findings

*The estimated average additional health cost to employers is 8% more for those with eldercare responsibilities.

*This differential in health care for caregiving employees is estimated, conservatively, as costing U.S. employers $13.4 billion per year.

*Employees providing eldercare were more likely to report fair or poor health, and are more likely to report depression, diabetes, hypertension, or pulmonary disease

The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict

Source: Joan C. Williams, Heather Boushey, Center for American Progress, January 25, 2010

From the summary:
Work-family conflict is much higher in the United States than elsewhere in the developed world. One reason is that Americans work longer hours than workers in most other developed countries, including Japan, where there is a word, karoshi, for “death by overwork.” The typical American middle-income family put in an average of 11 more hours a week in 2006 than it did in 1979.

Not only do American families work longer hours; they do so with fewer laws to support working families. Only the United States lacks paid maternity-leave laws among the 30 industrialized democracies in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The only family leave available to Americans is unpaid, limited to three months, and covers only about half the labor force. Discrimination against workers with family responsibilities, illegal throughout Europe, is forbidden only indirectly here. Americans also lack paid sick days, limits on mandatory overtime, the right to request work-time flexibility without retaliation, and proportional wages for part-time work. All exist elsewhere in the developed world.

So it should come as no surprise that Americans report sharply higher levels of work-family conflict than do citizens of other industrialized countries. Fully 90 percent of American mothers and 95 percent of American fathers report work-family conflict. And yet our public policymakers in Congress continue to sit on their hands when it comes to enacting laws to help Americans reconcile their family responsibilities with those at work.
See also:
Executive Summary
Related article:
With rising child-care cost, many parents are paying to work
Source: Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, January 26, 2010

Marital Status Discrimination: Are Family-Friendly Policies Meeting the Needs of Unmarried Workers?

Source: Mary Curlew, Sloan Work and Family Research Network, Policy Brief no. 21, December 2009

From the summary:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 95.9 million Americans 18 years of age and older were unmarried in 2008, up from 37.5 million in 1970. Unmarried employees make up over 40% of the full-time workforce. [. . .] These facts do not lessen the claims of married workers with dependent children. However, they do point to the need for work and family policies that look beyond a narrow view of family and encompass the many different types of personal needs faced by today’s workers.
See also:
Topic Page on Single Workers
Marital Status Discrimination
Domestic Partnerships, Civil Unions and Same-Sex Marriage
Unmarried America

Free Riding on Families: Why the American Workplace Needs to Change and How to Do It

Source: Phoebe Taubman, American Constitution Society, Issue Brief, December 2009

From the summary:
ACS is pleased to distribute “Free Riding on Families: Why the American Workplace Needs to Change and How to Do It,” an Issue Brief by Phoebe Taubman, an Equal Justice Works Fellow with A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center, based in New York City. Today’s fast-paced economy relies on many different resources, including electricity, fuel, technology, and the labor of our workers, among many others. Ms. Taubman argues, though, that there is one critical resource whose value we do not fully recognize, and without which our economy would founder: the unpaid work of caring for our families. Whether it is the education and care of the next generation or the comfort and care of the elderly, this work produces extensive benefits for society and we could not go on without it. Ms. Taubman, employing a variety of statistics, discusses the staggering costs imposed on unpaid caregivers, most of whom are women, and on their families, companies, and society as a whole. She contends that, “[f]or a country whose politicians tout family values, the United States has done little to confront these costs and support the critical work that families provide.”

Caregivers as a Protected Class?: The growth of state and local laws prohibiting family responsibilities discrimination

Source: Stephanie Bornstein, Robert J. Rathmell, Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, December 2009

From the press release:
At least 63 local governments in 22 states–including some of the nation’s major urban areas–have passed employment anti‐discrimination laws that go beyond federal and state statutes to ensure that those with caregiving responsibilities are not discriminated against at work. Cases filed under these local laws, such as one recent decision in Chicago, have the potential to result in substantial damages, fines, and attorneys fees.

Today, the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law released the first comprehensive nationwide survey of state and local laws that prohibit family responsibilities discrimination, or FRD. FRD occurs when employees are penalized at work–fired, demoted, denied promotions or employment benefits, or harassed–because of their caregiving responsibilities at home, whether for children, an ill partner, or an elderly relative. While most of the local laws cover parents and those with responsibilities for children, some go further to include other caregiving relationships.

The new report shows that, going beyond state and federal statutes, cities and counties have taken it upon themselves to ensure their residents are not discriminated against in public and private employment settings based on familial status or responsibilities.

Caregiving in the U.S. 2009

Source: National Alliance for Caregiving in Collaboration with AARP; Funded by The MetLife Foundation, December 2009

From the summary:
Caregiving is still mostly a woman’s job and many women are putting their career and financial futures on hold as they juggle part-time caregiving and full-time job requirements. This is the reality reported in Caregiving in the U.S. 2009, the most comprehensive examination to date of caregiving in America. The first national profile of caregivers, Family Caregiving in the U.S. was published in 1997, and an updated version of the study, Caregiving in the U.S., was reported in 2004.

The sweeping 2009 study of the legions of people caring for younger adults, older adults, and children with special needs reveals that 29 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 65.7 million people, are caregivers, including 31 percent of all households. These caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week. The 2009 reports also begin to trend the findings from all three waves of the study.

Families Need to Man Up

Source: Kathleen Deveny, Newsweek, December 4, 2009

With schools winding down for the holidays, the flu season picking up, and unemployment topping 10 percent, anxiety has never been more acute for many working parents. That is especially true of working mothers. America is approaching a milestone: women are about to hold more than 50 percent of jobs for the first time, in part because men have been hit harder by layoffs. And yet women still shoulder the bulk of child-care responsibilities because of retrograde family roles, school-event schedules, and employers’ attitudes. All of which can force an otherwise honest woman to fib.

“We Thought We Were Going to Get It Done”: Examining the Paid Family Leave Campaign in Massachusetts

Source: Lori Gardinier, Journal of Workplace Rights, Vol. 13 no. 4, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This case study identifies the factors that promoted the mobilization and de-escalation of the paid family leave campaign in Massachusetts from 1998 to 2002. These factors are compared against those involved in the California campaign that resulted in the successful passage of legislation. The present article provides a unique exploration of paid family leave organizing and reveals the problems that are specific to mobilization for this issue. This research is significant to social movement research and policy studies because it highlights the elements, processes, and resources that influence and foster meaningful and effective coalition building, and the relationships between mobilization groups and larger systems. This case study applies interview, documentary and economic indicators. The primary conclusion is that intertwined economic, political, and organizational factors coupled with proposed policy components impeded success in Massachusetts and that the factors and policy in Massachusetts differed from the conditions and policy proposals in California.

Wellbeing & Business Performance

Source: Morgan Redwood, 2009
(registration required)

Companies pay huge attention to their key financials – sales margin, throughput, operational costs and so forth. However an asset that also drives corporate performance and which is often overlooked in tough times is people.

What impact is the current economic downturn having on people management? Do organisations see talent as a valuable resource or a commodity that can be easily replaced? What about staff wellbeing? Do the UK’s businesses see the health, happiness and mindset of their people as a detriment of corporate success and therefore something they should pay attention to? Perhaps most fundamentally, does the way a company treat its people impact on corporate performance?