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Workplace Flexibility

About Workplace Flexibility

Workplace flexibility and access to alternative work arrangements are crucial for America’s working families to help reconcile work-family responsibilities, stay globally competitive by pursuing training and education, and help in the transition from work to retirement.

When flexible work arrangements are available, both employers and employees benefit. When not, employees may be pushed out of employment altogether or be forced to choose work below their skill and experience level. This can lead to a loss of human capital for the whole economy. For example, highly educated women in the United States are less likely to be in employment than in any other of 20 high income nations.

In 2008, IWPR released a report focusing on statutory employment rights aimed at increasing workers’ ability to change their working hours and arrangements in 20 high-income countries. Statutory Routes to Workplace Flexibility in Cross-National Perspective includes statutes providing a general right to alternative work arrangements as well as those targeting work-family reconciliation, lifelong learning, and gradual retirement, and argues that an explicit right to request flexible working can play an important role in preparing the U.S. economy for the future.

IWPR has collaborated with the Sloan Center on Aging & Work to produce a detailed overview of legal arrangements regarding workplace flexibility in the United States and 20 other high income countries, released in 2008. This collaboration also resulted in a report that provided an overview of the employment and social security rights of part-time workers in the United States and 20 other high income countries.

Resources

Family Leave & Paid Sick Days, IWPR

Visit our additional resources page for links to more information on this topic.

To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

Latest Reports from IWPR

Valuing Good Health in Chicago: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Time
by Claudia Williams (March 2014)

This briefing paper uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate costs and benefits of Chicago’s Earned Sick Time Ordinance. It estimates how much time off Chicago workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that earned sick time. This analysis also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate cost-savings associated with the proposed policy, through reduced turnover, reduced spread of contagious disease in the workplace, prevention of productivity losses from employees working while sick, minimized nursing-home stays, and reduced norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes. The study is one of a series of analyses by IWPR examining the effects of earned sick time policies.

 

Paid Sick Days Access in the United States: Differences by Race/Ethnicity, Occupation, Earnings, and Work Schedule
by Claudia Williams and Barbara Gault (March 2014)

Paid sick days bring substantial benefits to employers, workers, families, and communities. The economic and public health benefits of paid sick leave coverage include safer work environments; improved work life balance, reduced spread of contagion; and reduced health care costs. Access to this important benefit, however, is still too rare, and is unequally distributed across the U.S. population, with differences by race and ethnicity, occupation, earnings levels, and work schedules. Utilizing data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), IWPR finds that in 2012, approximately 61 percent of private-sector workers age 18 and older in the U.S. had access to paid sick days (Figure 1); up from 57 percent in 2009. More than 41 million workers lack access.

 

Testimony of Claudia Williams, Institute for Women’s Policy Research Before the Committee on Finance and Revenue of the Washington D.C. City Council regarding B20-438 and B20-480
by Claudia Williams (October 2013)

 

Spring/Summer 2013 Newsletter-25th Anniversary Edition
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (August 2013)

This special 25th Anniversary edition of the newsletter presents a review of IWPR's policy research since our founding in 1987.

 

Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption Leave in the United States
by Yuko Hara and Ariane Hegewisch (May 2013)

The United States is one of only four countries globally, and the only high-income country, without a statutory right to paid maternity leave for employees. In all but a few states, it is up to the employer to decide whether to provide paid leave. This briefing paper summarizes employees’ legal rights in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and adoption, and nursing breaks, and examines how far employers are voluntarily moving to provide paid parental leave beyond basic legal rights. It draws on three data sources: leave benefits offered by Working Mother magazine’s “100 Best Companies,” the Family and Medical Leave Act in 2012 Survey, and the National Compensation Survey. This briefing paper finds that the large majority of the “100 Best Companies” provides paid maternity leave, and many provide paid leave for adoption or paternity leave, although only a small minority provides pay during the full 12 weeks of FMLA leave. Among employers more broadly, a third (35 percent) of employees work for an employer offering paid maternity leave, and a fifth (20 percent) paid paternity leave, according to the FMLA 2012 Survey. According to the National Compensation Survey, only 12 percent of employees in the United States have access to paid leave for any care of family members (newborns, adopted children, or ill children or adults). Lower paid workers are least likely to have access to paid leave. International research suggests that the introduction of a statutory right to paid leave for parents would improve the health and economic situations of women and children and would promote economic growth.

 

Access to Earned Sick Days in Oregon
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2013)

An analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reveals that about 596,800 private sector employees in Oregon lack even a single earned sick day. Access to earned sick days promotes healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness,1,2 increasing productivity,3 and supporting work and family balance.4 Earned sick days allow people to take time off work to recover from illness and to tend to family members’ health without the fear of lost pay or other negative consequences. This briefing paper presents estimates of lack of earned sick days access rates in Oregon by occupation, by sex, race and ethnicity, personal annual earnings, and work schedule through analysis of government data sources, including the 2010–2011 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2009–2011 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Valuing Good Health in Vermont: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Health Care Time
by Claudia Williams with assistance from Jasmin Griffin and Jeffrey Hayes (April 2013)

The briefing paper uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Vermont Department of Health, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate costs and benefits of Vermont’s H.208. It estimates how much time off Vermont workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. This analysis also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate cost-savings associated with the policy, through reduced turnover, reduced spread of contagious disease in the workplace, prevention of productivity losses from employees working while sick, minimized nursing-home stays, and reduced norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes. The study is one of a series of analyses by IWPR examining the effects of earned health care time policies.

 

Valuing Good Health in New York City: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Jeff Hayes, Ph.D. (March 2013)

 

Valuing Good Health in New York City: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Claudia Williams (March 2013)

 

Testimony Before the Public Health and Human Services Committee of the Philadelphia City Council regarding Bill 130004, Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces
by Claudia Williams (March 2013)

 

Testimony on SB 698: Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act
by Claudia Williams (February 2013)

 

Paid Sick Days in Philadelphia Would Lower Health Care Costs by Reducing Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits
by Claudia Williams (February 2013)

Thirty-four percent of Philadelphia private-sector employees, or approximately 182,629 workers, lack access to paid sick days. This fact sheet reports findings from research by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) on how increased access to paid sick days would improve both accesses to health care and health outcomes in Philadelphia. The research also quantifies the savings gained by providing access to paid sick days to all private-sector workers, thereby preventing some emergency department visits in Philadelphia.

 

Access to Earned Sick Days in Maryland
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (February 2013)

A new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reveals that more than 700,000 private sector employees in Maryland lack even a single earned sick day. Access to earned sick days promotes healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illnesses, , increasing productivity, and supporting work and family balance. Earned sick days allow people to take time off work to recover from personal illnesses and to tend to family members’ health without the fear of lost pay or other negative consequences. This briefing paper presents estimates of earned sick days access rates in Maryland by occupation, by sex, race and ethnicity, and personal annual earnings, through analysis of government data sources, including the 2010–2011 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Valuing Good Health in Maryland: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Claudia Williams (February 2013)

The briefing paper uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate costs and benefits of Maryland’s “Earned Sick and Safe Time Act.” It estimates how much ime off Maryland workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. This analysis also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate cost savings associated with the policy, through reduced turnover, reduced spread of contagious disease in the workplace, prevention of productivity losses from employees working while sick, minimized nursing-home stays, and reduced norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes. The study is one of a series of analyses by IWPR examining the effects of earned sick days policies.

 

Valuing Good Health in Philadelphia: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Clau (January 2013)

Policymakers across the country are increasingly interested in ensuring that workers can take paid time off when they are sick. In addition to concerns about workers’ ability to respond to their own health needs, there is growing recognition that, with so many dual-earner and single-parent families, family members’ health needs also sometimes require workers to take time off from their job. Allowing workers with contagious illness to avoid unnecessary contact with co-workers and customers has important public health benefits. Paid sick days also protect workers from being disciplined or fired when they are too sick to work, help families and communities economically by preventing lost income due to illness, and offer savings to employers by reducing turnover and minimizing absenteeism.

 

Recommendations for an Evaluation of the District of Columbia’s Paid Sick Days Law
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (September 2012)

This briefing paper presents recommendations for the evaluation and report on the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008.1 One provision of the Act, which mandates that employers in the District of Columbia provide paid sick days to some employees, requires the Auditor of the District of Columbia to prepare and submit a report on the Act’s impact.

 

Valuing Good Health in Denver: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (October 2011)

Voters in Denver will consider a referendum on the 2011 ballot regarding the issue of requiring employers to provide paid sick days. Using the parameters of the proposed law and publicly available data, this paper estimates the anticipated costs and some of the anticipated benefits of the law for employers providing new leave, as well as some of the benefits for employees. Employees of businesses with ten or more employees are estimated to use an average of 2.5 days annually out of a maximum of 9 that may be accrued, while employees at smaller businesses are estimated to use an average of 2.1 days annually out of a maximum of 5 accrued. The anticipated cost of the law for employers due to lost productivity and increased wages is equivalent to a 20 cent-per-hour increase in wages for employees receiving new leave. The anticipated savings for employers, notably a reduction in costly employee turnover, are expected to have a wage equivalent of a savings of 22 cents per hour. Annually, businesses in Denver are expected to expend $22.8 million in providing new paid sick days for employees. Providing new paid sick days is expected to yield benefits of $24.2 million annually, for a net savings for Denver employers of $1.4 million annually.

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Paid Sick Days in Denver Would Improve Health Outcomes, Reduce Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities, And Help Control Health Care Costs
by Claudia Williams and Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (October 2011)

In Denver, 41 percent of the private-sector workforce, or 107,407 workers, lack access to paid sick days. In the present research, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates the improvements in access to health care and health outcomes that Denver workers without paid sick days and their families would experience if they were to gain access to paid sick days.

 

Paid Sick Days and Employer Penalties for Absence
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Robert Drago, Ph.D., and Claudia Williams (July 2011)

 

Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption Leave in the United States
by Annamaria Sundbye and Ariane Hegewisch (May 2011)

 
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