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Comptroller Scott Stringer: New Yorkers need family-friendly workplace policies

• Survey of over 1,100 New Yorkers finds nearly half don’t have access to Flexible Work Arrangements
• 80 percent support Paid Family Leave; the United States and …New Guinea don’t have paid family leave
• Roughly one-third of shift workers report retaliation for requesting schedule changes
• Almost 89% of employers reported it had a “positive effect”on productivity, profitability, and employee morale

New Yorkers need policies that would help them balance work and family responsibilities, according to a report released today by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, in partnership with A Better Balance. The report, “Families and Flexibility: Building the 21st Century Workplace,” is based on a survey of more than 1,100 New Yorkers working in a broad range of industries and provides a follow up to Comptroller Stringer’s report, “Families and Flexibility,” from June 2014.

The online survey, while not scientific, asked workers in all five boroughs about:

  • The availability of flexible work arrangements;
  • How comfortable they are requesting flexible schedules;
  • The need for paid family leave; and
  • For “shift workers,” the predictability of their work schedules.

“No New Yorker should ever have to choose between keeping their job and caring for their family,” said Comptroller Stringer. “With policies like FlexTime, paid family leave, and advanced notification of schedules, we can give workers the tools they need to address their personal and professional responsibilities.”

The Continued Case for Right to Request Legislation and Flexible Work Arrangements

at Workplace Survey
by Comptroller's Office.

Flexible work arrangements, which allow employees to work outside the traditional 9-to-5 schedule and from locations other than their offices, are one of the most effective ways to help individuals establish a work-life balance. Flexible work arrangements also help businesses boost their bottom line by improving morale and minimizing turnover.
But, nearly half of workers surveyed do not have access to flexible work arrangements.

Just as troubling, respondents who had requested flexible work arrangements in the past reported that they had experienced missed promotions, negative reviews, and belittling comments.

Among respondents without office-wide policies on flexible scheduling:

  • 59% were “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” asking for FlexTime; and
  • 71% said they would be more likely to ask for flexibility if everyone in their workplace had the right to request it.

People who did have flexible work arrangements reported that it allowed them to better manage their lives. For example, one respondent was able to complete a Master’s program thanks to FlexTime, while another was able to care for her father during the last six weeks of his life without worrying about losing her job.

Comptroller Stringer calls on Congress to pass the Flexibility for Working Families Act and on Albany and City Hall to enact local “right-to-request” laws.

These laws – which are sponsored by Representative Carolyn Maloney in Congress and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and State Senator Daniel Squadron in Albany – would create a framework for employees to discuss FlexTime with their bosses without fear of retaliation.

New Yorkers shouldn’t be intimidated or fearful when asking for flexibility in their schedules,” Comptroller Stringer said. “That’s why it is critical that we pass ‘right-to-request’ legislation which would enable employees to discuss FlexTime without fear of retaliation. New Yorkers should be able to take their son to the doctor, pick their daughter up from school, or care for their elderly parents without having to worry about their jobs.”

Paid Family Leave: A Policy to Support 21st Century Families

The Comptroller’s survey also found strong support for paid family leave, which allows new parents to bond with their children and provides support for individuals caring for sick family members:

  • 80% of respondents support a paid family leave system funded by a small employee payroll deduction, as state legislation in Albany has proposed; and
  • 86% support equal amounts of paid family leave for both mothers and fathers.

A 2011 study of California’s program by the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that paid family leave helps employees care for their loved ones, and is also good for business. Over 89% of employers reported it had a “positive effect” or “no noticeable effect” on productivity, profitability, turnover, and employee morale.

Comptroller pushes New York State to pass the Paid Family Leave Insurance Act in lieu of congressional action.

Families and Flexibility.
Report by
Comptroller's Office. 2014

This legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr., would create a state-wide paid family leave insurance system, which would be funded by a small employee payroll deduction.

Two countries in the world don’t have paid family leave: New Guinea and the United States,” the Comptroller said, referring to a study by the International Labor Organization. “That needs to change. Mothers and fathers should have the opportunity to bond with their newborns, and all workers should be able to care for sick family members without fear of losing their job. While this issue should be addressed at the federal level, we can and must take steps now in Albany to support paid family leave for all New Yorkers.”

Stable Schedules: A Building Block for New York City Families

The survey found that among “shift workers,” whose schedules often change week-to-week, 18% receive their schedule only a day in advance, with some respondents reporting that they often don’t know their schedule until the day of—or even during their shift.
This uncertainty prevents workers from scheduling day care for their kids, providing elder care for their loved ones, and furthering their own education.

Among these workers:

  • Nearly one-fifth receive their schedules a mere 24-hours before their shift begins; and
  • Almost one-third reported retaliation after requesting schedule changes.

Comptroller urges City Council to pass a law mandating advance notification of schedules.

Such a bill would require employers to provide schedules at least 72 hours in advance.
Advance notification of schedules isn’t a perk – it’s a basic necessity for millions of Americans who deserve to know when they need to clock in so that they can plan their lives accordingly,” said Comptroller Stringer. “Enacting this as standard workplace policy is long overdue.

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