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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Families Act’

New Poll Shows Bipartisan Voter Mandate for Family Friendly Workplace Policies

Posted by sherrysaunders on December 5, 2012

national partnership

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show that no matter which candidate voters supported for president this election, they are feeling the pressure of out-of-date workplace policies, and they want action to fix them.”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

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Posted in Economy, Families, Research, Successful Workplaces, Uncategorized, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Paid Sick Leave Legislation Catching on Across the Country

Posted by egehl on June 23, 2011

Momentum is building across the country at the state and local level in support of paid sick leave days.

Currently no federal  laws guaranty that all workers must be eligible for a minimum number of paid sick days.  As a result, millions of workers across the country cannot afford or don’t feel comfortable taking time off when they feel sick, or need to take care of a family member.  Workers must choose between their health or their paycheck leading to many consequences, such as workers becoming increasingly ill or having to take time off without pay hurting their family financially.

A few years ago, the Healthy Families Act was introduced in Congress which requires businesses with 15 or more employees to provide up to 7 days of paid sick leave each year.  Three components of the bill are of significant benefit to women as the paid leave covers: recovery from routine illness or care for an ill family member; doctor’s appointments and other preventative care; and time spent seeking help and services for victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

Building off the national campaign to pass the Healthy Families Act, states and cities are following suit with support for paid sick leave for workers.  For example, Connecticut has just become the first state in the nation to pass paid sick days legislation that will ensure workers will be able to take paid time off to recover when they are sick or to care for a sick family member.  There are three cities, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Milwaukee where employees and their families benefit from some form of paid sick leave.  The Mayor of  Philadelphia recently vetoed paid sick leave legislation passed by the City Council.

According to a new study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, San Francisco’s mandatory sick-leave law has wide acceptance among employees and employers.  IWPR’s survey found that two-thirds of employers support the San Francisco law, and only 1 in 7 employers complained that it affected their profitability.  The typical worker covered by the law used only three sick days per year and one quarter of employees took no time off for illness.

There is growing support for policies, such as paid sick leave, that protect the health of workers and their families to reflect the economic realities of family life today.  Now that women make up almost half of the workforce, most families with children have two working parents and growing numbers of workers care for an aging parent, few can afford to lose a day’s pay because they stayed home sick or cared for a sick loved one.

In addition to Connecticut, action is expected soon on paid sick leave measures around the county in a number of cities and states that have robust coalitions and advocacy efforts including Seattle, and Denver.  In New York City, Massachusetts, Georgia, California and a dozen other states and cities, coalitions are actively building support for similar measures.

With these positive developments, stay tuned to hear more about states and cities supporting this sensible, long overdue measure to help workers balance their lives and take care of their families while still being able to afford it.

Posted in Advocacy, Families, Health, Successful Workplaces, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Misbehavin’ Notification: Sick Of Not Being Paid

Posted by gansie on June 12, 2009

Paid Leave is Good for Women and Employers

Business and Professional Women Support FIRST Act and Healthy Families Act

Washington, DC   — Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation CEO Deborah L. Frett, in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, supported two important work-life bills – the FIRST Act (HR 2339) and the Healthy Families Act (HR 2460) saying these bills “will start us on the road toward successful workplaces for employers and employees. A successful workplace is one where women can succeed and businesses can profit.”

sick woman“Business and Professional Women’s Foundation strongly supports paid leave because many families can not afford to take the unpaid leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act. As more working families struggle to make ends meet during the current economic downturn, it is especially important to ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their mortgage and their new children,” stated Frett.

“One of the most significant trends of the past 50 years has been the movement of women, especially mothers, into the paid labor force and the growth of women-owned businesses. Achieving a sustainable work-life balance is of paramount concern for working women and their families. Many women business owners tell us that they left their previous employer to start their own business to have greater work-life balance and they are more likely to offer that flexibility to their employees,” Frett continued.

“The FIRST Act will provide grants to the states so they can provide paid leave to working families for the birth or adoption of a child, to recover from serious illness or to care for a seriously ill family member. This reliance on a public-private partnership assures that the burden of providing a much-needed benefit does not fall solely on business.

“In addition, BPW Foundation is particularly supportive of the provisions in the FIRST ACT that allow workers to take time off to care for an injured service member or to deal with a family member’s military deployment. BPW Foundation has a history of supporting women veterans.We have conducted groundbreaking research on the unique needs of women veterans transitioning from active duty to the civilian workforce and understand the strain on today’s military families. Paid parental leave not only provides important benefits to military families, it also recognizes their sacrifice.

“BPW Foundation supports the Healthy Families Act and its goal to guarantee full time workers seven paid sick days each year to recover from an illness, care for a sick family member, seek routine medical care, or seek assistance related to domestic violence.”

Frett pointed out that there currently are no state or federal laws guarantying all workers a minimum number of paid sick days. “The lack of this benefit has forced millions of Americans to choose between their paychecks and their health or the health of a family member.”

“The lack of paid sick days hurts families.It hurts moms and dads, kids and grandparents and singles – everyone gets sick. Unpaid time impacts the entire household because of the lost income. Without paid sick days, workers and families face financial difficulty in cases of illness or family health emergencies.

“The American family has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Employee benefits should reflect the way we live now. Today, two-thirds of families with children have either two employed parents, or a single employed parent, most of who work full-time.

“The success of FMLA shows that business will not collapse if they provide time off to their employees. In fact 15 years after its passage, business has good things to say about FMLA.

“If we are really committed to the American family, we need leave policies that allow everyone to achieve the work-life balance that is so frequently talked about. If we are truly interested in fostering a strong and productive workforce and strong families, then we must ensure that workplace policies support employee success.And paid sick days is such a policy.” Frett concluded.

Press Release
Testimony

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Posted in Advocacy, Families, Health, Misbehavin' Notification, Successful Workplaces | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Real Value of Swine Flu

Posted by egehl on May 11, 2009

Throughout the swine flu craze of the past few weeks it never occurred to me what the policy ramifications of a national health scare could be beyond the obvious public health issues.

swine-fluRecently the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) issued a statement to remind the public that many workers do not have paid sick leave:  “Challenge in Curbing the Spread of Swine Flu: Half of Workforce Lacks Paid Sick Days.” This means that if a large amount of the population caught the swine flu, or any illness for that matter, that people would not be able to stay at home for fear of not being able to pay their bills or feed their family. And what happens if a child’s school is closed? Parents have to make the tough decision to either stay at home and not get paid or leave their 8 year old home alone.

While the connection is obvious, public health officials and the media have failed to recognize the ramifications of a swine flu outbreak in the workplace.  IWPR’s timely statement makes a poignant and important point that as officials try to prevent the spread of this new flu they must realize that many workers do not have the ability to leave their jobs in the event of an illness, much less a dire one.   According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other data conducted by IWPR, they have found that less than half of workers have paid sick days and only one in three are able to utilize sick days to care for sick children.

Given today’s economy and high joblessness rate, everyone has a mounting fear about losing their job.  However workers without paid sick days are at an even greater disadvantage.  If they stay at home they face a higher risk of losing their job and their pay will significantly decrease.  Many workers without paid sick leave are hourly therefore a day not working means significantly less compensation.  And right now familiesespecially cannot afford even a day without pay.  As a result, workers will go to their jobs regardless of how they feel, and parents who cannot stay home with a sick child are more likely to send sick children to school or day care.

Ironically, workers who work in direct contact with the public and would be the most likely to pass on an illness like the swine flu, such as restaurant workers, child care workers and hotel employees, are among the least likely to have paid sick days.

In 2007, Congress first introduced the Healthy Families Act which would require that employers with fifteen or more employees guarantee workers up to seven paid sick days  so that employees can recover from a short-term illness, care for a sick family member, seek routine medical care or seek assistance related to domestic violence. paidsickdays

The Healthy Families Act has not been introduced in the 111th Congress yet and in light of the swine flu epidemic now would be an opportune time.  In addition to raising awareness in Congress through this federal bill, the Administration is also being reminded that they must keep in mind the state of workplaces when issuing recommendations.  A letter written by Senator Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative DeLauro (D-CT) was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to call attention to their recommendation that workers stay home to prevent the spread of swine flu. But how can they when nearly half of private sector workers have no paid sick leave? (Click here to find out how the government may be taking care of their own.)

Often it takes current events to spark policy to finally move forward and I think the correlation between the issue of paid sick leave and the swine flu makes for one of those times.  The swine flu will not be the last time there’s a public health scare. If government wants to fully prepare citizens it must think beyond the normal confines of how to prevent and treat illnesses.  They must look at the broader picture of how diseases are spread and the workplace is ground zero.

Unless workers are able to stay at home, an outbreak worse than the swine flu could spread like wild fire.  Everyday illness should be reason enough to pass the Healthy Families Act but the urgency has not been felt on Capitol Hill.  Therefore let the swine flu be a reminder that epidemics can happen and it’s better to prepare now than when a worse pandemic occurs.

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