Many workplace norms and laws were developed over half a century ago, when a different workforce model and a different family model prevailed. In 1960, 70% of families had at least one parent at home full-time. Today, 70% of children are growing up in families headed by either a single working parent or two working parents. A Better Balance is working to change laws and policies to better reflect the way Americans live and work today.
It comes as a shock to many Americans, who take for granted that they can stay home from work when they are sick, that 40 to 44 million of their fellow workers don’t have a single paid sick day. In fact, 38 percent of private sector U.S. employees have no paid sick time according to government statistics. Even fewer workers can take time off if their child or another family member is sick.
The United States stands alone among industrialized countries in failing to mandate paid family leave. Low-income workers and their families are especially vulnerable as they often lack the financial resources needed to take advantage of unpaid time off.
The United States suffers from widespread and persistent devaluation of care work. Our country treats the work of caring for children, the elderly, and those who are sick or disabled as secondary to other forms of labor. As a result, the work of caregiving is often poorly compensated or completely unpaid and, because it is treated as a private concern, the labor it involves becomes invisible. The labor of stay-at-home parents is taken for granted and domestic workers who provide paid care usually perform their labor without adequate legal protections.