Category Archives: Family & Work

Pension Crediting for Caregivers: Policies in Finland, France, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan

Source: Elaine Fultz, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, IPWR # D497, June 2011

This report examines pension crediting for caregivers in seven countries. These credits are most often awarded to mothers of young children, but also to fathers, adult children, grandparents, or unrelated caregivers. They improve pension adequacy by compensating for periods of unpaid work during which the care provider makes limited or no pension contributions. The credits may help to establish pension eligibility, advance the date of retirement, improve the pension amount, or affect a combination of these. The countries examined here are Canada, Japan, and five members of the European Union (EU): Finland, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. While the credits are known by a variety of terms, this paper uses for the most part a single phrase: Pension Crediting for Caregivers, or PCC.

The analysis has three parts. Chapter 1 serves as background, describing the national contexts in which PCC occurs, the social objectives it is used to achieve, and the general parameters of PCC scheme designs. Chapter 2 describes variation in PCC features across the seven countries. Drawing on these comparisons, it considers the feasibility of achieving different policy purposes through the use of crediting, with particular reference to the United States, were it to establish PCC. Chapter 3 provides country-by-country descriptions of PCC systems, as well as some relevant features of the national pension systems and the labor markets in which they operate.

FLSA Section 7(r): A New Break for Mothers

Source: Michael McGrorty, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 62 no. 2, Summer 2011
(subscription required)

In recent years, many states have enacted laws concerning breastfeeding. While the majority if these laws simply exempt breastfeeding from the list of acts constituting public nudity, lewdness, and indecent exposure, an increasing number require employers to permit, and even facilitate expressing breast milk in the workplace.

Changing Workplaces to Reduce Work-Family Conflict: Schedule Control in a White-Collar Organization

Source: Erin L. Kelly, Phyllis Moen, and Eric Tranby, American Sociological Review, Vol. 76 no. 2, April 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Work-family conflicts are common and consequential for employees, their families, and work organizations. Can workplaces be changed to reduce work-family conflict? Previous research has not been able to assess whether workplace policies or initiatives succeed in reducing work-family conflict or increasing work-family fit. Using longitudinal data collected from 608 employees of a white-collar organization before and after a workplace initiative was implemented, we investigate whether the initiative affects work-family conflict and fit, whether schedule control mediates these effects, and whether work demands, including long hours, moderate the initiative’s effects on work-family outcomes. Analyses clearly demonstrate that the workplace initiative positively affects the work-family interface, primarily by increasing employees’ schedule control. This study points to the importance of schedule control for our understanding of job quality and for management policies and practices.

Poor, Pregnant, and Fired: Caregiver Discrimination Against Low-Wage Workers

Source: Stephanie Bornstein, Center for WorkLife Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 2011

With limited financial resources, few social supports, and high family caregiving demands, low-wage workers go off to work every day to jobs that offer low pay, few days off, and little flexibility or schedule stability. It should come as no surprise, then, that workers’ family lives conflict with their jobs. What is surprising is the response at work when they do.

This report provides a survey of family responsibilities discrimination (FRD) lawsuits that low-wage workers brought against their employers when they were unfairly penalized at work because of their caregiving responsibilities at home. The report reflects a review of cases brought by low-wage hourly workers, drawn from the more than 2600 cases collected by the Center for WorkLife Law in its FRD case database to date. Fifty such cases are used to illustrate trends in caregiver discrimination lawsuits brought by low-wage workers.

Three key points emerge:
– Low-income families are caught between extreme demands at both home and work.
– Most low-wage workers go to extraordinary measures to meet both work and family responsibilities.
– Low-wage workers often face overwhelming family responsibilities with few social supports.

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.
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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.