Working people have always needed to care for their children, families and elderly relatives, and at the same time, be productive, responsible employees. As parents struggle to meet the dual demands of work and family, and people live longer and sometimes sicker, we need workplace policies that reflect the realities of our lives more than ever.
Today, the majority of families with children have two working parents, fewer families have full-time caregivers at home, and millions of workers care for aging relatives. Yet, workers—particularly those with low incomes—often have little flexibility in their jobs and struggle to work and meet family obligations. In a 2006 survey, nearly two-thirds of working women said that they have no control over their work hours. Perhaps even more startling, in a 2008 survey eight in ten working women said they believe having children hurts their careers and prospects in the job market (with 27 percent saying it strongly hurts their career).
Research confirms what working families and responsible employers already know: when businesses take care of their workers, they are better able to retain them. And when workplace policies allow workers to meet the dual demands of work and family—while offering the security of job protection—workers are more committed and productive on the job, and their employers reap the benefits.
America’s policies should not force workers to choose between their families and their economic security. The National Partnership for Women & Families is committed to supporting workplace policies that help workers meet their responsibilities on the job and at home—without leaving workers vulnerable to extraordinarily long, mandatory overtime. We support workers’ right to join a union and have a voice in developing workplace policies.
When workers had a seat at the table, many of the most creative and successful workplace flexibility policies were implemented, including flex-time, part-time, telecommuting, job sharing, shift-swap and compressed work-week options.