The health care industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of our country’s workforce. Access to workplace flexibility is critical for health care workers and their families. One in five private-sector workers in the health care and social assistance field have no paid sick days. The same is true for more than half of personal care workers who are often responsible for the care of the elderly and small children. When these workers are forced to go to work sick, they risk their own health and the health of those who are sick, elderly and in need of medical attention. There is no question that inflexible workplace policies in this industry have a ripple effect on the health of our communities.
Recent studies have proven the mutual benefit for workers and businesses of policies like paid sick days and paid family and medical leave. Yet tens of millions of workers in this country are struggling to meet the dual demands of work and family because they don’t have access to these basic protections. It is time for lawmakers and employers to develop flexibility standards that enable workers to keep their jobs and care for their families.
That is why we are so pleased that the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau have organized the National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility. The events are sparking a much needed national discussion on the importance of these policies — and they are giving workers and business owners a chance to help define standards that will work for everyone. Combined with the data and research these events have inspired, the series will get us one step closer to meeting the needs of today’s working families.
We look forward to future events in the series, the continuation of this important dialogue, and the strong policy and business standards developed with the insights generated by these discussions."
The National Partnership for Women & Families drafted and led the fight for the Family and Medical Leave Act. The organization is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.