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Election '08: Candidates pledge support for working families
December 2007

Workplace Flexibility | Family Responsibilities Discrimination | Additional Provisions

Promoting Workplace Flexibility:
Current Provisions:
Compared to employment standards in other economically advanced countries, U.S. labor regulations are more employer-friendly than family-friendly, giving individual workers little or no control over work schedules or compulsory overtime hours. Professionals and managers are more likely to have working time flexibility than lower level workers and, overall, male employees are more likely to have job flexibility than female employees. According to a recent study, two-thirds of first-time mothers reported that they did not have enough job flexibility to meet their personal needs and caregiving responsibilities.

Hillary Clinton:

Barack Obama: John Edwards:

Create a model workplace award through the Department of Labor to highlight businesses that establish innovative workplace flexibility programs and provide grants to "these and other businesses to expand their models to serve more employees;"

Require all federal agencies to set specific telecommuting goals for their workforces;

Invest up to $50 million dollars annually in state-level telecommuting initiatives.

Create a program to inform business about the benefits of flexible work schedules for productivity and creating a positive work environment;

Help businesses create flexible work opportunities and increase federal incentives for telecommuting;

Implement a right to request flexible and reduced work hour for all federal employees.

Although Edwards acknowledges lack of job flexibility as a problem for working families, his plan offers no specific proposal for increasing workplace flexibility.

While telecommuting is a popular proposal for increasing workplace flexibility, promoting telecommuting options only benefits workers whose jobs are not location-specific and excludes many occupations with high concentrations of women workers, such as nurses and health care aides, child care workers, school teachers, retail workers, restaurant and food service workers, housekeeping and janitorial service workers, and many other manufacturing, trade, and service workers. Furthermore, the goal of making federal agencies model employers is likely to have a limited impact on employment practices in the private sector.
Prevent Family Responsibilities Discrimination in the Workplace:

Current Provisions:
No federal law explicitly prohibits employer discrimination based on family status or responsibilities, but current laws prohibiting pregnancy and gender discrimination and protecting worker's rights to family leave do prohibit differential treatment of male and female workers based on perceived or actual family responsibilities (EEOC, 2007). Currently, only two states specifically prohibit workplace discrimination based on family status/responsibilities.

Hillary Clinton: Barack Obama: John Edwards:
Will "work to prohibit" workplace discrimination against parents.

Commit the government to enforcing recently-enacted EEOC guidelines on caregiver discrimination.

No statement on FRD in
"Balancing Work & Family Plan."
Additional Provisions:
Hillary Clinton: Barack Obama: John Edwards:
Achieve work family balance goals consistent with fiscal discipline. Clinton proposes to pay for the new programs by closing a loophole in tax shelter laws.

Obama's work-life balance platform is part of a broader agenda to "Reclaim the American Dream," which includes new tax credits for middle-class working families, automatically enrolling workers in portable retirement savings accounts, reforming bankruptcy laws, protecting families from predatory lending practices, lowering health care costs for working families, and making college education more affordable through a refundable tax credit.

Assure economic fairness for independent workers by requiring employers to offer universal, portable retirement accounts, with matching funds from the federal government (up to $500/year) to encourage savings; modernize unemployment insurance to cover more non-standard workers.

All three candidates have announced plans for Universal Health Care Coverage.
Tables & text:

Democratic front-runners pledge support for working families

Table 1:
Expanding the FMLA | Paid Family & Medical Leave | Paid Sick Days

Table 2:
Child Care & Afterschool Care | Universal Preschool

Table 3:
Workplace Flexibility | Family Responsibilities Discrimination | Additional Provisions

All tables - print version (.pdf)

mmo : december 2007

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