National Partnership for Women & Families

"National Dialogue Sparks Critical Conversation on Flexible Policies for Service Workers"

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — March 31, 2011 —
"People working in the nation’s service industries support us all, yet they are paid low wages and are less likely than most workers to have supports that allow them to meet the dual demands of work and family. That is why the Obama administration’s focus on these workers at today’s National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility event in Silver Spring, Maryland, is so important. The conversation is a critical step in addressing the challenges faced by an essential segment of our country’s workforce.

Three in four food service workers (77 percent) and more than 60 percent of hospitality and tourism workers lack even a single paid sick day that they can use to recover from illness or to care for a sick family member. Because they are some of the lowest paid workers in the country, the loss of even a few hours of pay — much less a job — can be devastating. Inflexible work schedules, which prevent workers from seeking timely medical care, compound the problem. Jobs in the hospitality, restaurant and tourism fields require regular contact with the public, so the lack of workplace supports can lead to the spread of contagious illnesses and jeopardize public health. It is a losing situation for everyone.

We commend the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau for holding these events, which shed light on the need for flexible workplace policies. Like previous National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility events, the discussion today promises to give both workers and business owners the opportunity to share experiences and shape standards that work for everyone.

The National Partnership for Women & Families looks forward to future events and to real progress on paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, flexible workplaces and related policies. Turning these discussions into real-life policy initiatives is critical to ensuring today’s workplaces meet the needs of today’s families."

Contact

Sadie Kliner (202) 986-2600 skliner@nationalpartnership.org

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.

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