— Posts About Work and Family Balance

NY Times Looks Again at the Burden on Working Parents

Prompted by a stark pattern on the U.S. Supreme Court, David Leonhardt of the New York Times addresses the continuing burdens on working parents that still mostly fall on women.  Because employers do not make reasonable accommodations for parental leave, parents who take time off often suffer long-term drops in pay and position, or stop working altogether.  Paid parental leave would help to address this issue.  And, he notes, “With Australia’s recent passage of paid leave, the United States has become the only rich country without such a policy.”

But, given implacable opposition from the business community on this issue, “a more realistic immediate idea may be the recent British law giving workers the right to request a switch to a part-time or flexible schedule. Employers can still say no, but the establishment of a formal right seems to have made a difference. So far, about 90 percent of requests have been approved.”

Categories: General News Tags: , , , , , ,

DOL Expands FMLA to Cover Non-Traditional Families

The federal Department of Labor issued some important guidance regarding the coverage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as it applies to all sorts of unconventional families. The DOL made clear that FMLA rights to get time off to care for children do not require a biological relationship with the child. Rather, anyone who has assumed the role of parent (for example a non-married step-parent, grandparent, or same-sex partner) is entitled to FMLA leave to care for the child.  Continue for highlights from the guidance: Read more…

Categories: Legislative Action Tags: , , , , ,

Op-Ed Calling for Paid Maternity and Family Leave

An op-ed in the Washington Post calls for paid family and maternity leave because the 12 weeks of unpaid leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is grossly inadequate.  Sharon Lerner traces the history of legislative efforts to provide paid leave to support workers’ families, the compromised law that is the FMLA, and the pernicious effects of inadequate paid leave.  The need for reform is stark:

When it comes to paid maternity leave, the United States is in the postpartum dark ages.  One hundred and seventy-seven nations — including Djibouti, Haiti and Afghanistan — have laws on the books requiring that all women, and in some cases men, receive both income and job-protected time off after the birth of a child. But here, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides only unpaid leave, and most working mothers don’t get to stay home with their newborns for the 12 weeks allowed by the law. Many aren’t covered by the FMLA; others can’t afford to take unpaid time off. Some go back to work a few weeks after giving birth, and some go back after mere days.

Categories: Legislative Action Tags: , , , , , ,

New Report on Work-Family Conflict

On the heels of Mike’s talk to the North Carolina Legislature’s Joint Study Committee on Work and Family Balance, the Center for American Progress has published an excellent new report, “The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict.”  The paper describes how the typical workplace today is deeply out of sync with today’s workforce because of dramatic changes over the past few decades in incomes, working hours, and patterns of family care.  Moreover, our employment laws have failed to keep up with these changes, and offer little support or protection for working families.  The report calls for:

  • Short-term and extended leaves from work, including paid time off for family and medical leave and paid sick days.
  • Workplace flexibility to allow families to plan their work lives and their family lives.
  • High-quality and affordable childcare so that breadwinners can concentrate on work at work, and
  • Freedom from discrimination based on family responsibilities.

Check out the full report or the executive summary for more details.

Categories: General News Tags: , , , , ,

Mike Okun Speaks to NC Legislative Committee on Work and Family Balance

Yesterday, Michael Okun spoke in front of the North Carolina Legislature’s Joint Study Committee on Work and Family Balance.  Mike presented an overview of employment law, the specific laws that assist employees in caring for family members and themselves, and possible improvements that could be made to further assist employees as they balance the demands of work and family.

An excellent paper on the topic is “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.  The paper discusses the need for reform, compares our laws to the more robust protections available in most other countries, and proposes reforms in the areas of: an improved Family and Medical Leave Act, paid sick days, workplace flexibility, employment discrimination against caregivers, and workplace equity.

Categories: Legislative Action Tags: , , , , , ,