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Workplace Flexibility

About Workplace Flexibility

Workplace flexibility and access to alternative work arrangements are crucial for America’s working families to help reconcile work-family responsibilities, stay globally competitive by pursuing training and education, and help in the transition from work to retirement.

When flexible work arrangements are available, both employers and employees benefit. When not, employees may be pushed out of employment altogether or be forced to choose work below their skill and experience level. This can lead to a loss of human capital for the whole economy. For example, highly educated women in the United States are less likely to be in employment than in any other of 20 high income nations.

In 2008, IWPR released a report focusing on statutory employment rights aimed at increasing workers’ ability to change their working hours and arrangements in 20 high-income countries. Statutory Routes to Workplace Flexibility in Cross-National Perspective includes statutes providing a general right to alternative work arrangements as well as those targeting work-family reconciliation, lifelong learning, and gradual retirement, and argues that an explicit right to request flexible working can play an important role in preparing the U.S. economy for the future.

IWPR has collaborated with the Sloan Center on Aging & Work to produce a detailed overview of legal arrangements regarding workplace flexibility in the United States and 20 other high income countries, released in 2008. This collaboration also resulted in a report that provided an overview of the employment and social security rights of part-time workers in the United States and 20 other high income countries.

Resources

Family Leave & Paid Sick Days, IWPR

Visit our additional resources page for links to more information on this topic.

To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

Latest Reports from IWPR

San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: Outcomes for Employers and Employees
by Robert Drago, Ph.D. and Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (February 2011)

This study examines the effects of San Francisco’s recent paid sick days legislation on employees and employers.

#A138, report, 44 pages
$10.00
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Better Health for Mothers and Children: Breastfeeding Accommodations under the Affordable Care Act
by Robert Drago, Ph.D., Jeffrey Hayes, Ph.D., and Youngmin Yi (December 2010)

This study examines new workplace protections for nursing mothers under federal law. We report current patterns of breastfeeding, and provide the first estimates of coverage rates under the law, as well as the first projections of the likely effect of the new protections on increasing rates of breastfeeding in the United States. The research represents part of a broader body of work undertaken by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on balancing work and family commitments. The research was made possible by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

#B292, Report, 28 pages
$10.00
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The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Robert Drago, Ph.D. (July 2010)

 

The Need for Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees: Adapting to a Changing Workforce-Executive Summary
by Kevin Miller, PhD, Allison Suppan Helmuth, and Robin Farabee-Siers (August 2009)

The federal government, unlike many large private employers, does not provide paid parental leave to its employees. The federal government is the largest single employer in the United States, but federal employees are significantly older and better educated than private sector workers and have already begun retiring at an increasing rate. The departure of many baby boomers from the federal workforce will require the government to recruit and retain younger workers, who expect more job flexibility than workers from previous generations. The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act would provide four weeks of paid leave for federal workers who adopt, foster, or have a child. This report discusses the role that providing paid parental leave to federal employees could play in addressing federal workforce challenges. Providing paid parental leave for federal workers is expected to improve recruitment and retention of young workers, preventing $50 million per year in costs associated with employee turnover.

 

The Need for Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees: Adapting to a Changing Workforce-Report
by Kevin Miller, PhD, Allison Suppan Helmuth, and Robin Farabee-Siers (August 2009)

The federal government, unlike many large private employers, does not provide paid parental leave to its employees. The federal government is the largest single employer in the United States, but federal employees are significantly older and better educated than private sector workers and have already begun retiring at an increasing rate. The departure of many baby boomers from the federal workforce will require the government to recruit and retain younger workers, who expect more job flexibility than workers from previous generations. The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act would provide four weeks of paid leave for federal workers who adopt, foster, or have a child. This report discusses the role that providing paid parental leave to federal employees could play in addressing federal workforce challenges. Providing paid parental leave for federal workers is expected to improve recruitment and retention of young workers, preventing $50 million per year in costs associated with employee turnover.

 

Paid Sick Days in Massachusetts: Containing Health Care Costs through Prevention and Timely Treatment
by Vicky Lovell, PhD and Kevin Miller, PhD (January 2009)

Massachusetts' proposed Paid Sick Days Act is a natural partner to bring cost control to the Commonwealth's expanded health care system. The Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law's universal health care requirement extended health insurance to nearly 440,000 individuals in its first two years (Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority 2008). According to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, the program has nearly eliminated uninsured status among state taxpayers.1 However, the program's cost has been much higher than anticipated. Funding for Fiscal Year 2008 was increased by nearly one-third through a supplemental budget request, to $625 million, and the Fiscal Year 2009 budget pegs the program at forty percent more: $869 million.

#B267, Briefing Paper, 6 pages
$5.00
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A Prescription for Good Asthma Care for Children: Paid Sick Days for Milwaukee Parents Parents’ Lack of Job Flexibility Hurts Children with Chronic Health Problems
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (September 2008)

Asthma treatment is a priority for Wisconsin’s public health system, according to the Wisconsin Turning Point Transformation Team.1 The most common chronic health problem for children, asthma sent nearly 3,800 Wisconsin children to the emergency room in 2005, and more than 700 were hospitalized, at a cost of close to $4 million.

 

Health and Family Care Leave for Federal Workers: Using a Short-Term Disability Insurance Model to Support Worker and Family Well-Being, Ensure Competitive Employee Compensation, and Increase Productivity
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (February 2008)

Testimony presented to the Joint Economic Committee and the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia

 

A New Full-Time Norm: Promoting Work-Life Integration Through Work-Time Adjustment*
by Cynthia Negrey (July 2004)

(Cynthia Negrey is an Associate Professor Sociology Department, University of Louisville) This paper is an argument for a new, shorter, full-time work norm in the United States. It examines the context of “time famine” as a product of women’s increased labor force participation and an increase in household total employment hours, a caregiving gap, bifurcation of aggregate work hours, and a gap between workers’ actual and ideal work hours. Inadequacies of current alternative work-time arrangements and the Family and Medical Leave Act are addressed and some international comparisons are discussed. Following Appelbaum et al. (2002), the author argues for a “shared work/valued care” model of work-time allocation.

 

40-hour Work Proposal Significantly Raises Mothers’ Employment Standard
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (May 2003)

#D460, Research-in-Brief, 8 pages
$5.00
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Job Training and Education Fight Poverty
by IWPR (March 2002)

Reviews the research literature on the effects of job training and education for parents on children and families. Available by mail in limited quantities. E-mail iwpr [at] iwpr [dot] org to place an order.

 

The Widening Gap: A New Book on the Struggle to Balance Work and Caregiving
by Hedieh Rahmanou (September 2001)

This Research-in-Brief is based on selected findings from a new book by Jody Heymann, Director of Policy at the Harvard Center for Society and Health. Published by Basic Books in 2000, The Widening Gap: Why America’s Working Families are in Jeopardy and What Can Be Done About It reveals the failure of our nation’s employer-based support system to help families meet their caregiving responsibilities. Copyright permission was granted by Perseus Books LLC.

 
Preview not available

Part-Time Opportunities for Professionals and Managers
by Shannon Garrett and Anna Rocket (December 1998)

 

Unnecessary Losses: Costs to Americans of the Lack of Family and Medical Leave
by Roberta M. Spalter-Roth and Heidi Hartmann (April 1990)

 
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