Public Policy

The Program on WorkLife Law develops and promotes public policy initiatives to address the economic vulnerability of mothers and other family caregivers in the workplace. We also provide technical guidance to advocates and federal and state policy makers, on the economic vulnerability family caregivers face in the workplace. We are also working in coordination with other experts, organizations, and a wide range of advocates representing women, mothers, children and families, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, elders, and organized labor, towards achieving public policy that will help workers balance their responsibilities at home and on the job.

In particular, we are working towards:
  • Part-time parity. Part-time workers, many of whom are mothers and other family caregivers, should be guaranteed parity in wages, benefits, training and advancement opportunities. Without such protection, employees who work fewer hours in order to fulfill family responsibilities are unfairly penalized. This would mean that someone who works 75% of a full schedule, would earn 75% of the pay and benefits provided to a full-timer, as well as proportional training and advancement opportunities. Part-time parity can be combined with tax breaks to help employers with the cost of benefit packages.

  • Unemployment insurance for part-time workers. Unemployment insurance protections should be expanded to cover part-time workers. The federal law currently provides no guarantee of coverage for part-time workers. The result is to penalize family caregivers who need to work part-time in order to care for their families. Click here to view our recently released report "--Laid Off and Left Out-- Part-Time Workers and Unemployment Insurance Eligibility: How States Treat Part-Time Workers and Why UI Programs Should Include Them".

  • Limits on mandatory overtime. Unexpected mandatory overtime forces workers with family responsibilities to choose between their jobs and the health and safety of their families. Employers should be required to set reasonable limits on mandatory overtime, or offer overtime solely on a voluntary basis.

  • Seven days' paid family and medical leave. Even if the U.S. does not provide the kind of generous paid leaves available in Europe and elsewhere, surely we can afford to give workers seven days of paid leave for health and family care. This would provide a vital benefit to all workers, and is particularly important for the most economically disadvantaged workers.

  • Expand existing human rights or employment discrimination statutes to cover family responsibilities. Existing human rights statutes should be expanded to prohibit discrimination on the basis of family responsibilities. This would protect workers against adverse employment decisions based on their family responsibilities.
Comments by panelists at the Work/Family Summit sponsored by Senator Kennedy and Organized by the Program on WorkLife Law, February 12, 2002, Dirksen Senate Office Building Available here.