Category Archives: Family & Work

Family Values at Work: It’s About Time! Why We Need Minimum Standards to Ensure a Family-Friendly Workplace

Source: Multistate Working Families Consortium

“Family Values at Work” documents the consequences on workers, families, businesses and the nation when family values end at the workplace door. The document details the wrenching stories of workers suffering from the lack of family-friendly work rules, summarizes key research, and lays out a policy agenda modest compared to that of other advanced nations yet urgently needed by U.S. workers and their families. These policies include a minimum number of paid sick days for routine illnesses as well as a family leave insurance fund to provide income during longer-term leaves for a new baby or serious health condition.

The report is being released by the MultiState Working Families Consortium, a network of state coalitions working for policies that value families. Joining them are ten national organizations, including 9to5, National Association of Working Women, ACORN, the AFL-CIO, Moms Rising, and Service Employees International Union. Together these groups and others are building a movement to win changes at the local, state and national level. Funding for the report was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Family Caregiving to the Older Population: Background, Federal Programs, and Issues for Congress

Source: Congressional Research Service

Family caregiving to older individuals in need of long-term care encompasses a wide range of activities, services, and supports. Caregiving can include assistance with personal care needs, such as bathing, dressing, and eating, as well as other activities necessary for independent living, such as shopping, medication management, and meal preparation. In addition, family caregivers may arrange, supervise, or pay for formal or paid care to be provided to the care recipient.

Family caregivers fulfill the majority of the need for long-term care by older persons with chronic disabilities in the United States. As a result of increases in life expectancy, as well as the aging of the baby-boom generation, demand for family caregiving to the older population is likely to increase. However, demographic trends such as reduced fertility, increased divorce rates, and greater labor force participation among women may limit the number of available caregivers to older individuals, as well as the capacity for caregivers to provide needed care.

Although many family caregivers find caregiving for an older family member a rewarding experience, other life circumstances, in addition to caregiving, may increase caregiver stress. For example, family members may not live in close proximity to the care recipient, they may face the competing demands of child care and elder care, and they may have to manage work with caregiving responsibilities. As a result, family caregiving can lead to emotional and physical strain and financial hardship. These effects are more likely to be felt among those caring for persons with high levels of disability or cognitive impairment. Caregiver stress has been linked to nursing home admission for the care recipient, thus interventions that can reduce stress may also reduce nursing home placement.

Recognizing family caregivers as an important part of the nation’s long-term care delivery system, the federal government has established programs and initiatives that provide direct supports to caregivers, such as respite care, education and training, tax relief, and cash assistance. These benefits are targeted at family caregivers to reduce stress and financial hardship, and to improve caregiving skills, among other things. Other federal programs and initiatives provide home- and community-based long-term care services and supports to the care recipient. These programs can indirectly benefit caregivers in relieving caregiver burden by either supplementing the informal care they are providing or substituting with paid support.

Three sets of policies that would provide direct assistance to family caregivers to older adults are briefly discussed in the last section of this report. These policy issues, which have been the subject of discussion among federal policymakers and other interested stakeholders, include the following: caregiver services and supports, flexible workplace accommodations and income security, and additional tax credits.

State Child Care Assistance Policies 2007: Some Steps Forward, More Progress Needed

Source: Karen Schulman and Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center, Issue Brief, September 2007

The analysis, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2007: Some Steps Forward, More Progress Needed, compares child care assistance policies in 2007 to 2006 and 2001 in four key policy areas: reimbursement rates for providers, income eligibility, waiting lists for assistance and copayment requirements. States have made some progress since 2006 in the areas of income eligibility and waiting lists, the report found, but less progress was made in copayments, and almost no progress was made in reimbursement rates. Most states also continue to be behind where they were in 2001.

An Economy That Puts Families First: Expanding The Social Contract To Include Family Care

Source: Dr. Heidi Hartmann, Ariane Hegewisch, and Dr. Vicky Lovell, Economic Policy Institute, Briefing Paper #190, May 24, 2007

In two-thirds of families with children, both parents work. A typical child today is just as likely to live in a family with a working mother as with a working father. These facts herald a startling change that has occurred over a remarkably short period of human history–in only a few decades we have experienced a revolution in how we raise our children. Yet it is a revolution with which our government and public policies have not kept pace. Parents have made enormous changes in their lives with little help or support, and the strains are showing. Two-thirds of working parents feel they do not have enough time to spend with their families (Gallinsky, Bond, and Hill 2004), and 1.3 million chil­dren below the sixth grade (age 11) spend at least some time each day in self care (Afterschool Alliance 2003).

Family Values at Work: It’s About Time! Why We Need Minimum Standards to Ensure a Family-Friendly Workplace

Source: MultiState Working Families Consortium, September 2007

“Family Values at Work” documents the consequences on workers, families, businesses and the nation when family values end at the workplace door. The document details the wrenching stories of workers suffering from the lack of family-friendly work rules, summarizes key research, and lays out a policy agenda modest compared to that of other advanced nations yet urgently needed by U.S. workers and their families. These policies include a minimum number of paid sick days for routine illnesses as well as a family leave insurance fund to provide income during longer-term leaves for a new baby or serious health condition.

The Family and Medical Leave Act: A Report on the Request for Information

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, 2007

From press release:
The U.S. Department of Labor today released Family and Medical Leave Act Regulations: A Report on the Department of Labor’s Request for Information, a comprehensive review of the thousands of public comments received in response to the department’s December 1, 2006, Request for Information about the Family and Medical Leave Act regulations and their impact in the workplace.

“The 15,000 comments from workers, employers and others attest to the importance of family and medical leave for America’s caregiving workforce,” said Victoria A. Lipnic, assistant secretary of labor for the department’s Employment Standards Administration. “While family and medical leave is widely supported, we also heard from many workers and employers that there are challenges with the way certain aspects are being administered. This report provides information for a fuller discussion about how some of the key FMLA provisions and their interpretations have played out in the workplace.”

The comments highlight the prevalence with which unscheduled intermittent leave is being taken in certain workplaces. As the record indicated, this is the single most serious area of friction between employers and workers. Another major area of concern, on the part of workers, employers and health care providers, is the medical certification process.

The report is comprised of 11 chapters: 10 chapters on key regulatory issues, plus the first chapter, which describes the value of the FMLA to employees.

The Financial Vulnerability of Families

Source: Christian Weller and Kate Sabatini, Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, Volume 50, Number 3, May-June 2007
(subscription required)

Few doubt that the housing boom is over. But the extent of the housing decline and its consequences for the economy are subject to much speculation. The authors present a detailed and comprehensive picture of Americans’ dependence on housing and are concerned about the extent of their vulnerability to future economic shocks.

How Family Leave Laws Left Out Low-Income Workers

Source: Ann O’Leary, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Vol. 28 no. 1, 2007

Recent media attention has focused on professional women who have “opted out” of the paid labor market to care for their children. By contrast, the media has paid less attention to low-income women who have been required to “opt in” to the workforce over the past ten years as a result of the nation’s overhaul of the welfare system. As women’s overall workforce participation has increased, low-wage working women have become much less likely to have access to pregnancy and family leave than their professional counterparts. This article examines the historical and legal development of this disparity.

The Work, Family, and Equity Index – How Does the United States Measure Up?

Source: Jody Heymann, Alison Earle, and Jeffrey Hayes, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Project on Global Working Families, 2006

When it comes to ensuring decent working conditions for families, the latest research shows many U.S. public policies still lag dramatically behind all high-income countries, as well as many middle- and low-income countries. This report is based on updated and expanded research used in the first Work, Family, and Equity Index: Where Does the United States Stand Globally?, released in 2004.

EEOC Issues New Guidance On Work/Family Balance And Promotes Employer Best Practices

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, May 23, 2007

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today held a public meeting focusing on employer best practices to achieve work/family balance, and issued a guidance document on how agency-enforced laws apply to workers with caregiving responsibilities.

The new guidance is being issued by the EEOC as a proactive measure to address an emerging discrimination issue in the 21st century workplace. The document, Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities, provides examples under which discrimination against a working parent or other caregiver may constitute unlawful disparate treatment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The guidance notes that changing workplace demographics, including women’s increased participation in the labor force, have created the potential for greater discrimination against
working parents and others with caregiving responsibilities, such as eldercare ­ all of which may vary by gender, race or ethnicity.

Also from the summary:

The guidance, available online along with a question and answer fact sheet, states: “This document is not intended to create a new protected category but rather to illustrate circumstances in which stereotyping or other forms of disparate treatment may violate Title VII or the prohibition under the ADA against discrimination based on a worker’s association with an individual with a disability.”