Family Friendly Workplaces

Many of today's employers recognize that offering some degree of flexibility for scheduling and benefits is an essential tool for recruitment and retention of workers. Though family dynamics have changed over the last several decades, women essentially remain the primary caregivers for children and other family members in a great number of families. Therefore, family friendly workplaces, which benefit all workers, disproportionately benefit women.

The U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau offers a program and technical assistance to businesses interested in exploring or implementing flexible scheduling called Flex-Options for Women. Flexible workplace schedules not only benefit workers, but are extremely valuable for employers in such areas as reducing absenteeism, building employer loyalty, and the ability to offer attractive benefits for little or no cost.

The federal Family Medical Leave Act requires that employers with 50 employees or more provide job-protected, unpaid leave of up to twelve weeks to workers in their employee for at least 12 months for the purposes of giving birth to or adopting a child, to care for a family member, or if the employee her/himself has a serious medical condition.

For employers who wish to implement a paid sick days policy, this toolkit provides resources. It includes sample policies, implementation guidance for D.C. and San Francisco (where there are active paid sick days laws), and additional information such as tax credits available for small businesses under the Affordable Care Act.

ICSW commonly fields questions related to pregnancy and breastfeeding while working. Employment discrimination due to pregnancy is against the law. The public interest is best served when employers allow and encourage those employees who wish to breastfeed to do so, such as making reasonable accommodations for nursing employees to have time and space to pump. Pumping typically takes 15 minutes, twice a day. LA Best Babies has created a very useful guide for employers and employees alike. La Leche League and the Iowa Department of Public Health have many other resources as well.