Ensuring that a growing economy is equitable and benefits all workers is an important policy priority for all elected officials. Given that women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of U.S. households and the overall economy, each election cycle presents an opportunity to highlight the policies that would help women have access to the jobs and benefits workers need to ensure economic security for themselves and their families.
This post is the fourth in a series outlining eight key policy priorities that are critical for increasing women’s economic opportunities and securing their futures. This was originally published on the IWPR website.
A fair wage or salary, health care benefits, a safe work environment, and the ability to take time off work when needed without losing pay are essential elements of good-quality jobs. Affordable and quality child care is another essential support for working parents and access to child care increases women’s employment in the formal economy, the number of hours they work, and family income for two-parent households. By not recognizing the need for work-life balance, typical workforce, college, and job training practices not only fail to support workers and their families, but also are costly to taxpayers and employers. Many workers do not have basic work-family benefits that provide them with the flexibility needed to deal with illness and accidents, caregiving responsibilities, or to pursue education and training. The lack of paid sick days, family and medical leave, vacation and holidays, and fair scheduling reduces economic opportunities, diminishes the health and well-being of mothers and their families, and pushes some women and men caregivers out of the workforce altogether. This increases turnover for employers as well as reduces overall GDP by decreasing the amount of available members of the workforce.
Policymakers need to:
■ Support local and state paid family leave policies; especially those based on a social insurance model (like Social Security) which typically have premiums shared by employers and workers and provide earnings replacement to all eligible workers;
■ Support local and state paid sick and safe days policies, especially those that provide minimum paid days off that do not leave out small employers;
■ Support businesses that provide access to paid sick days and paid family leave;
■ Work for national paid leave policies, including both paid sick days and paid family care leave;
■ Expand access to and funding of subsidized child care for those who earn low incomes and support employers who fund or provide child care for their employees.