CEPR Economist Heather Boushey Testifies to the EEOC on Work/Family Policies

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April 17, 2007

CEPR Economist Heather Boushey Testifies to EEOC on Work/Family Policies

For Immediate Release: April 17, 2007

Contact: Lynn Erskine, 202-293-5380 x115 

Washington, DC: In her testimony to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today, Heather Boushey, Sr. Economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, explained how most families cannot simultaneously be at work and provide care for children and sick family members. However, there are policies that can help families address their need for care, such as child care or paid time off, but workers need Congressional action to make employers adapt. The United States cannot continue to rely on private solutions to work/family problems.

Read the complete testimony

Testimony excerpt: "The majority of the U.S. workforce reports having little or no flexibility in setting their hours and nearly two-thirds report not having paid sick days to cover their time if a family member is ill. These issues are not going away. While families have put in more hours of work, the U.S. economy has grown richer and more productive. Yet, we have not addressed how workers can reconcile the demands of work and family in a way that works for both families and employers. The implications for workers are clear: without the right to have time to care, workers, especially those at the bottom of the wage distribution, must regularly make a choice between their family and their job. This is not a real choice.

Policymakers and employers do have some real choices. If all firms were required to allow workers the option of asking for a flexible schedule, modeled on the UK's legislation, then it would not be the exceptional employer who provides flexibility. If all firms were required to offer paid sick days and extended leave for health or maternity, then it would not be the exceptional firm who was taking on the cost of accommodating workers who have care responsibilities. The workplace must begin to recognize that workers with care responsibilities are no longer the exception."