By the National Partnership for Women & Families
Following a divisive election, new poll results released by the National Partnership for Women & Families reveal that the nation’s voters are united in their support for making the nation’s workplaces more family friendly. Across party and demographic lines, an overwhelming majority of those surveyed said they struggle to manage their work and family responsibilities — and that they think it is important for Congress and the president to consider policies that would help, such as paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance.
“America’s working families are being forced to make impossible choices between the well-being of their families and their financial security every day because our nation’s workplace policies are badly out of sync with the needs of today’s workers and families,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “These new survey data clearly show that no matter which candidate voters supported for president this election, they are feeling the pressure of out-of-date workplace policies, and they want action to fix them.”
The bipartisan poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group, found that 86 percent of voters nationwide said it is important for Congress and the president to consider new laws like paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance to help keep families financially secure. Nearly two-thirds said it is “very important.” Other key findings include:
- Strong support across party lines: 73 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of independents and 96 percent of Democrats said congressional and presidential attention to family friendly policies is important.
- Latinos, African Americans, women and young people — the very voter groups much talked about for their impact this election — felt strongest about the importance of congressional and presidential action: 79 percent of Latinos, 77 percent of African Americans, 69 percent of women and 68 percent of people under 30 considered it “very important.”
- There is a near universal experience of struggle and hardship in trying to meet work, family and personal responsibilities: Nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) said they experience these challenges at least somewhat often, and nearly four in 10 said they experience conflict “all the time” or “very often.”
- Similarly, nearly three-quarters of voters (72 percent) said they and their families would be likely to face significant financial hardships if they had a serious illness, had to care for a family member with a serious illness, or had a new child.
“There is near universal agreement among voters of all political parties that balancing work, family and personal responsibilities is a challenge,” said Brian Nienaber, vice president at The Tarrance Group. “Voters also strongly agree that a major life altering event like a new child or a seriously ill relative would cause them significant financial hardships.”
“This poll shows that voters want and need family friendly policies that help protect their economic security when illness strikes or babies are born,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “Across the board, voters are struggling to manage their responsibilities on the job and at home, they are worried about the financial impact of major health events, and they want lawmakers to adopt policies that will help. The support for paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance is strong and broad-based.”
The Healthy Families Act, which was introduced this Congress, would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care or provide care for a sick family member. It currently has 118 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 18 cosponsors in the Senate.
Members of Congress are also expected to work on a national family and medical leave insurance proposal that would create a federal insurance-based system to provide up to 60 days of partially-paid time off to workers to address their own serious health conditions, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or care for a newborn, newly adopted child or newly placed foster child.
“This new poll adds to an overwhelming body of evidence showing that the public strongly supports common sense, family friendly workplace policies,” said Vicki Shabo, director of work and family programs at the National Partnership. “It’s time for Congress to focus on the real challenges facing real people in this country and prioritize passage of modest, reasonable proposals like the Healthy Families Act and a national paid family and medical leave insurance program that would go a long way toward protecting the health and economic stability of our families while also strengthening our economy.”
The survey of 1,220 adults who indicated they had already voted or were likely to vote was conducted by telephone from November 4 to November 6, 2012. The sample included both landlines and mobile phones. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
The topline results of the poll can be found here: www.NationalPartnership.org/ElectionPoll