NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Women are Balancing Work and Family

June 8, 2001

Many women are feeling a time crunch. According to a 1999 study by the John J. Heldrech Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, 95 percent of workers are concerned about spending more time with their families. The Independent Women's Forum has found that workers, especially women, are demanding more flexibility and control over their work schedules, and the workplace has been adjusting.

  • Businesses are adopting compensatory time, "flextime," job sharing and telecommuting policies to allow maximum flexibility with minimal costs while encouraging employee loyalty and retention.
  • A recent Catalyst survey found that flexible work arrangements have not inhibited women's ability to advance.

But government mandates for "family-friendly" workplace policies add to costs and stifle the ability of businesses to accommodate their employees. By contrast, a strong and flexible economy helps all Americans.

  • Although many tout the success of federally mandated family leave, 60 percent of human resource professionals report significant obstacles to compliance with the Family Medical Leave Act, and 67.5 percent of employers admit to simply shifting workloads to co-workers.
  • Although well-meaning proposals for government-subsidized leave would allow workers time to spend with their families, industrialized countries with paid leave have consistently lagged behind the economic growth of those without.
  • Small businesses are less able to absorb the costs of complying with government regulations, and since increasing numbers of women have been starting small businesses this last decade, mandated leave for small businesses would jeopardize the economic gains of many women it is intended to help.

Furthermore, contrary to a recent report by the president's Council of Economic Advisers, time-use experts John Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey found parents are spending approximately the same amount of time with their children as in 1965 despite over 50 percent of women working outside of the home.

Source: Christine Stolba, "Women, Work and Family: Achieving a Balance," What Women Need to Know About Work and Money Series, 2001, Independent Women's Forum, P.O. Box 3058, Arlington, Va. 22203, 1-800-224-6000.


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