Category Archives: Family & Work

Paid Family Leave

Source: Lauren Damme, New America Foundation, Next Social Contract, March 9, 2011

The U.S. is the only wealthy country in the world without a system of paid leave to support working families. The experiences of developed nations show that economic growth is not undermined by policies that allow parents to spend adequate time with their newborn children. Equally important, paid parental leave policies are associated with lower infant mortality rates, better cognitive test scores and fewer behavioral problems for children, as well as fewer negative labor market consequences for mothers.

In a new Next Social Contract series, Lauren Damme explores the current state of our family leave supports and outlines the policies that can lead to better economic and social outcomes for hardworking American families.

1. FMLA fails to meet the needs of working families
2. International comparisons of paid family leave programs
3. States lead the way: Paid family leave in California
4. What could a federal paid leave insurance program look like?

Membership Has its Privileges? Contracting and Access to Jobs that Accommodate Work-Life Needs

Source: Forrest Briscoe, Mark Wardell, and Steve Sawyer, Industrial & Labor Relations Review, Volume 64, Number 2 , January 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using job-spell data based on an original survey of Information Technology (IT) degree graduates from five U.S. universities, the authors investigate the link between contracting and a set of job characteristics (accommodating flexible work hours, total work hours, and working from home) associated with work-life needs. Compared with regular employees in similar jobs, workers in both independent- and agency-contracting jobs report more often working at home and working fewer hours per week. Further, agency contracting (but not independent contracting) is associated with lower odds of being able to set one’s own work hours. Important differences also emerge in workplaces of varying sizes. For each job characteristic, as workplace size increases, independent contracting jobs deteriorate relative to regular employment jobs. As a consequence, in large workplaces, independent contracting jobs appear to be less accommodating of work-life needs than regular employment jobs.

Failing its Families

Source: Human Rights Watch, 2011

From the abstract:
This report is based on interviews with 64 parents across the country. It documents the health and financial impact on American workers of having little or no paid family leave after childbirth or adoption, employer reticence to offer breastfeeding support or flexible schedules, and workplace discrimination against new parents, especially mothers. Parents said that having scarce or no paid leave contributed to delaying babies’ immunizations, postpartum depression and other health problems, and caused mothers to give up breastfeeding early. Many who took unpaid leave went into debt and some were forced to seek public assistance. Some women said employer bias against working mothers derailed their careers. Same-sex parents were often denied even unpaid leave.
See also:
Press release

Symposium – Redefining Work: Implications Of The Four-Day Work Week

Source: Connecticut Law Review, Volume 42 Number 4, May 2010

From the Editor:
On October 30, 2009, Connecticut Law Review hosted a Symposium, Redefining Work: Implications of the Four-Day Work Week. Scholars from across the United States, Canada, and England gathered to explore the benefits of and challenges posed by a four-day work week. The Symposium proved to be both timely and thought-provoking, especially in light of the United States’ recent economic downturn and soaring unemployment rate. This Issue collects the papers presented by twelve of the participants at the Symposium.

Articles include:
– Four-Day Work Weeks: Current Research And Practice
By: Rex L. Facer Ii & Lori L. Wadsworth

– How And Why Flexible Work Weeks Came About
By: Riva Poor

– The Four-Day Work Week: Old Lessons, New Questions
By: Robert C. Bird

– Incenting Flexibility: The Relationship Between Public Law And Voluntary Action In Enhancing Work/Life Balance
By: Rachel Arnow-Richman

– The Four-Day Work Week: But What About Ms. Coke, Ms. Upton, And Ms. Blankenship?
By: Shirley Lung

– Unpaid Furloughs And Four-Day Work Weeks: Employer Sympathy Or A Call For Collective Employee Action?
By: Michael Z. Green

– A Purpose For Every Time? The Timing And Length Of The Work Week And The Implications For Worker Well-Being
By: Lonnie Golden

– Feminism And Workplace Flexibility
By: Vicki Schultz

– What A Difference A Day Makes, Or Does It? Work/Family Balance And The Four-Day Work Week
By: Michelle A. Travis

– Sprawl, Family Rhythms, And The Four-Day Work Week
By: Katharine B. Silbaugh

– Dilemmas Of Value In Post-Industrial Economies: Retrieving Clock Time Through The Four-Day Work Week?
By: Emily Grabham

– Female Infertility In The Workplace: Understanding The Scope Of The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
By: Jeanne Hayes

Family Responsibilities Discrimination: Litigation Update 2010

Source: Cynthia Thomas Calvert, The Center for WorkLife Law, 2010

This report provides data for employers, employees, their lawyers, and policymakers about current trends in family responsibilities discrimination litigation.

Highlights include:
• Lawsuits fled by employees with family caregiving obligations have increased almost 400% in the past decade, a time during which the overall number of employment discrimination cases filed decreased.
• Employees prevail in almost half of the cases, far more frequently than in other types of employment cases.
• Verdicts and settlements in family responsibilities discrimination cases average over $500,000.
• Cases have arisen in every state, in every industry, and at every level in organizations.
• Employers of all sizes have been sued, from small start-up companies to large multi-national corporations.

State Child Care Assistance Policies 2010: New Federal Funds Help States Weather the Storm

Source: Karen Schulman, Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center, September 2010

From the summary:
NWLC’s seventh annual report, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2010: New Federal Funds Help States Weather the Storm, reveals that states largely held off major cuts as of February 2010, with help from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. Although most state policies are holding steady compared to a year ago, they have not improved or are behind where they were in 2001. As a result, state policies continue to fall short, particularly in the area of reimbursement rates. The report also includes some information about developments since February 2010 that indicate states may face challenges in protecting their child care programs as ARRA funds are exhausted.

Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2010 Update

Source: Rosemary Kendall, National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, August 2010

From the abstract:
Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2010 Update provides average costs of child care for infants, 4-year-olds, and school-age children in centers and family child care homes in every state. The average cost that parents paid for full-time care for a 4-year-old child in a center ranged from more than $4,050 in Mississippi to more than $13,150 a year in Massachusetts. The average center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded the average annual amount that families spent on food in every region of the United States. Monthly child care fees for two children at any age exceeded the median monthly rent cost, and were nearly as high, or even higher than, the average monthly mortgage payment in every state. Data are from a 2009 survey of Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) State Networks. The message to parents, the general and policymakers echoes previous reports:

* Child Care Costs are High.
* Child Care Costs Are Rising.
* Child Care Costs are High Compared to Family Income.
* Child Care Costs are High Compared to Household Expenses.
* Child Care Costs are High Compared to College Costs
See also:
Press Release
One Pager

Poverty Among Women and Families, 2000-2009: Great Recession Brings Highest Rate in 15 Years

Source: National Women’s Law Center, September 2010

From the summary:
The latest Census Bureau data show a significant and alarming increase in poverty and extreme poverty among women, men and children in the United States in 2009. Poverty among women rose to 13.9 percent, up from 13.0 percent in 2008 — the highest rate in 15 years and the largest single-year increase since 1980. More than 16.4 million women were living in poverty in 2009, the largest number since the Census began collecting this data in 1966. Poverty among children also reached a 15-year high, rising from 19.0 percent in 2008 to 20.7 percent in 2009. These increases mirror the rise in the overall poverty rate from 13.2 percent to 14.3 percent in 2009, also the largest single-year increase since 1980.

Managers’ Support of Home-Work Balance Affects Employees’ Health, Study Finds

Source: Deane Beebe, Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, 09 September 2010

A new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study found that when long-term care managers are supportive of employees’ needs to balance home and work responsibilities, the employees slept longer and were less likely to have multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) than employees whose supervisors were less supportive.

These research findings point to the need for training in management practices, according to the study’s authors.

The New Dad – Exploring Fatherhood within a Career Context

Source: Brad Harrington, Fred Van Deusen and Jamie Ladge, Boston College, June 2010

From the summary:
Spawned by the women’s movement, changing demographics in higher education, and a brutal recession, men are no longer the primary breadwinners of days gone by. While women have fought for the past thirty years for legitimacy in the workplace, now it is men’s turn to find their place not just at work but in the home. In spite of the gains their spouses have made in the workplace, it is still assumed that women will play the primary role of raising the children. While gender inequity has adversely affected women in many ways (from lower pay to lower expectations to the glass ceiling), it has also made it difficult for men to be recognized as equal contributors as parents.

This study attempts to view and understand, through their eyes, the experience of today’s working fathers in their roles both as worker and parent. The researchers are interested in the career identity and the paternal identity of these new fathers and how the two roles integrate, conflict, and enrich one another.