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WorkFamily Reconciliation Policies for the United States: Lessons from Abroad


Tiffany Manuel, Ph.D. Department of Political Science. University of North Carolina at Charlotte ... modern welfare capitalism is in a transition period. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: WorkFamily Reconciliation Policies for the United States: Lessons from Abroad

Caregiving in a Work-First World The Tentative
Emergence of Employer-Based Policies Tiffany
Manuel, Ph.D. Department of Political
Science University of North Carolina at
Charlotte 9201 University City Blvd, Fretwell
445E Charlotte, NC 28223 Cou
ncil on Contemporary Families Symposium WHO
CENTURY October 20, 2006
..modern welfare capitalism is in a transition
period. Corporations today are less willing to
shoulder the risks for their employees than in
earlier years. Mass layoffs are one sign of
this other indicators include outsourcing,
managed-care health insurance, the shift from
defined-benefit to defined-contribution pensions,
and the rise of other kinds of at risk
compensation. If these changes continue, they
will cause the death of welfare capitalism by a
thousand cuts. (Sanford Jacoby, 1997)
  • Forcing business to provide leave is both
    inefficient and unjust. It in effect
    discriminates against single persons and against
    married women and men with no children or with
    grown children. Its one thing to call for a
    gender-neutral productivity test for pay hikes
    and promotions but another to make business give
    preference to persons with young children
  • (Gary and Guity Nashat Becker, 1997).
  • Children, like the environment, are a public
    good. The individual decisions that parents make
    about childrearing, and the level of resources
    they can devote to this work, have economic
    consequences for everyone
  • (Nancy Folbre, 1994).

  • When it comes to facilitating family leave as a
    way of providing some balance between work and
    family, on the federal level we spend practically
    nothing primarily because we are concerned about
    the effects the costs might have on employers and
  • (Selmi, 2000).

The Business Case Work Family Policies
  • Reduced casual sickness/absence
  • Improved retention
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved morale and commitment
  • Improved recruitment
  • Other Externalities to society
  • Healthier children, less stressful parents, fewer
    dollars spent by public health agencies, etc.

Emergence of Employer Policies
  • Often initially define work-family integration as
    childbirth and child care issue.
  • Over time broadening of policies practices to
    support participation in additional life roles
    community, elder care, teen supervision, personal
    health care, personal values (e.g. political,
    religious), military service, domestic chores, or
  • Work-life trend shows some recognition of need to
    support not only those with visible family needs
    (e.g., child care), but all employees at many
    life stages who may experience work life stresses
    regardless of family status.

Employee Demand
  • Flexible hours this does not necessarily
    translate into demand for fewer hours. Some
    employees want occasional or permanent
    flexibility in starting and leaving times to deal
    with longer-term childcare arrangements.
  • Part-time working some employees cannot work on
    a full-time basis owing to their caring
    responsibilities. Others need variation in their
    contracted working status to accommodate
    life-cycle changes (eg from full time to part
    time and back to full time).
  • Understanding and trusting culture in firms with
    significant provision, some employees are made to
    feel guilty about taking up family-friendly
    policies because they might appear less committed
    than colleagues. Providing supporting evidence
    for the commercial benefits of being
    family-friendly, is one way of eroding hostile
    organizational cultures.

Employee Demand
  • Emergency or short-notice flexibility employees
    with care responsibilities feel most vulnerable
    when care arrangements break down at short
    notice, causing them to miss appointments,
    deadlines or meetings, or at very least appear
    unreliable and disorganized. Caregivers need
    practical support in managing unanticipated
    domestic care needs that affect work attendance.
    This requires tolerance and understanding on the
    part of managers and co-workers.
  • Paid or unpaid special leave many employees with
    caring responsibilities are able to resolve
    short-term care problems if given the flexibility
    to reorganize their working time. Employees are
    far more confident about resolving short-term
    care difficulties if offered a limited number of
    paid or unpaid days special leave for emergencies
    or special circumstances.

Alliance of Work Life Professionals Surveys1999
and 2001
  • Employee Ass. Programs 77 84
  • Flexible Schedules 77 83
  • Child care referrals 83 75
  • Elder care referrals 76 74
  • Tuition assistance 70 71
  • w-f seminars 78 69
  • Wellness program 64 65
  • Telecommuting 70 64
  • Paid mater. Leave 51 52
  • Medical services 38 40
  • On-site child care 37 40
  • Back-up child care 43 39
  • Child care subsidy 29 35
  • Paid family leave 34 35
  • Concierge services 21 24
  • Paid paternity leave 27 21
  • Other programs 25 21

Bureau of Labor Statistics Data
  • http//

BLS Data
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Families and Work Institute Data

Families and Work Institute Data on Employers
  • Periodically change starting and quitting times?

  • Current adoption research (and the media) may
    have overstated policy availability.
  • Much of the published research in management and
    the social sciences involves larger employers who
    are most likely to give research access.
  • Mostly for high level, scarce employees and
    consistent findings of low use rates.
  • Policy use is often left up to supervisor
    discretion and needs of the business, so there
    can be wide variation in a single firm in the
    adoption of policies across business units
    employee groups.

  • Such efforts to help employees make a life as
    well as a living are really no more than
    recognition of the new reality. You can ask
    people to leave their personal lives at the
    factory fence in the old days, that was the
    culture of most corporations, including our own.
    But youre really just kidding yourself if you
    think that they have the capacity to comply. You
    cannot hire part of a person. You get the sore
    back along with the skillful hands. You get the
    anxious heart along with the educated brain
  • (Randall Tobias, 1998).
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