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Champion Real Workplace Flexibility

April 6, 2010
The White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility has generated an energetic buzz in work family advocacy circles across the nation. As a longtime advocate for family friendly workplaces, I am thrilled by First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama's keen interest and commitment to build and promote flexible workplaces. I also commend the many businesses that are genuinely trying to create workplaces that reflect the current needs of America's working families. But I am cautiously optimistic. For, I am also aware of the many "fake flex" policies that force workers to "flex" their lives...

Michelle Obama: "It doesn't have to be this way"

April 2, 2010
"Many folks don't have access to any kind of family leave policies whatsoever, no flexible working arrangements, many people don't even have a paid sick day. So they are struggling…scrambling to make things work…As we all know, here today, it just doesn't have to be that way. It doesn't have to be that hard…" Sound familiar? No, it's not a quote from last week's email from MomsRising; it's First Lady Michelle Obama talking yesterday at a White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility. Yes! Brava! The policies that she lists in her speech are exactly what we all need to meet the demands of today's...

Unpaid parental leave - How are US families faring?

March 30, 2010
Parental leave with pay when a child is born or adopted is an important support for working families, yet most US private sector workers do not have this benefit. Human Rights Watch ( ), a nongovernmental human rights group, is interviewing parents in the US about their experiences with unpaid maternity and paternity leave, and the impact on their families. The interviews will be used for a report (using pseudonyms, not actual names of interviewees) and for making recommendations on US law and policy. HRW is seeking parents to interview by phone in the coming month. The interviews...
Janet Walsh's picture

EU: Don't Force Women to Stay Home!

March 12, 2010
The European Union Commission has proposed a new directive, to be voted on in March, that would make maternity leave compulsory for the first six weeks after a woman gives birth. You read that correctly -- compulsory. As in, women would be forced to stay home, regardless of their own wishes, if they have children. Beyond the obvious affront on personal free will, the problems with this proposal are so numerous and egregious it's making our heads spin. Firstly, Europe as a whole already suffers from low female labor participation rates; continent-wide, only six out of ten women work. This is a...

Bring on the radical homemakers

March 12, 2010
...At some point, of course, I realized I wasn’t happy. I was trapped. I had money, but not time. It was like being surrounded by food, and dying of thirst. It turns out that there is a way out of this mess. There are people all over this country–both women and men–who have made a conscious decision to value their time more than their money. Against the formidable current of popular culture, they have decided that this may be the only life they will ever have, and they’re going to live it fully.
Katrina Alcorn's picture

Calling All Humans: Who Pays for us to Propagate?

March 1, 2010
Women now comprise about half the US workforce, according to a major story in the December 30 issue of the Economist . In other words, half our workforce bears all our children. Anyone who wants a child of one's own must recognize that somewhere, a woman will bear that child and will likely nurse him. However, lack of paid maternity leave places half our workforce at risk for economic insecurity or even frank poverty, just because they happen to have two X-chromosomes. So, attention all employers, coworkers, and legislators: If you want to have a sustainable workforce, at some point, you will...
Melissa Bartick's picture

FMLA: After 17 Years, It’s Time to Take the Next Step

February 24, 2010
The Family and Medical Leave Act turns 17 today. At the National Partnership, we are like proud parents. We remember the long fight to pass it, and the moment on February 5, 1993 when we stood beside President Clinton as he made it the very first bill he signed. For the first time, we had a national law to address the challenges facing workers who struggle to meet their job and family commitments. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was a huge step. It meant that millions of workers could take unpaid, but job-protected, leave to recover from illness or care for a sick family member or...

When will we dictate policy to protect our future generations?

February 18, 2010
Why are other countries recognizing the need for a paid stay-at home option, yet we are not? When will we dictate policy to protect our future generations? Our country's leaders seem to be primarily concerned with the here and now, instead of maintaining a balance that satisfies the present and the future. When will we, parents, amass and demand better options for balancing work and parenthood? How long will we wallow in a discontent disillusionment that our leaders won't listen or aren't concerned? Aren't we the ones who determine who our leaders will be? Aren't "we the people" destined to...

Time to Stop Free-Riding on Families

February 10, 2010
For generations, our country has been free-riding on families. Our economy is built on the invisible and free labor of millions--many of them women--who provide essential care to their families, whether it is the education and socialization of the next generation of workers or the comfort and care of the elderly. We have taken for granted that women will shoulder the lion's share of unpaid care work, even as they dedicate increasingly more hours to paid work. Although 70% of children are growing up in families headed by either a single working parent or two working parents, our workplace...
Phoebe Taubman's picture

Compensation for Parents

February 7, 2010
Most parents are overwhelmed when first entering into parenthood. This can cause emotional frustration and financial worry. To relieve this emotional burden, all parents should receive paid maternity and paternity leave for the first two years of their children’s lives. By providing this supplementation to a family’s income, a government acknowledges, and honors, the important role of parenting in the lives of its citizenry. Parents who have the option to stay home, with pay, for the first two years of a child’s life, will be less worried about how to balance work and family. Relieved of...