Taking Back Our Time Through the Public Arena
If we want to claim time as a family value, we need to work for cultural change. We must look beyond what our individual families yearn for to what is most needed in a hurried world. And we must pay particular attention to creating policies that give all families choices. The Take Back Your Time project promoted by the Simple Living network advocates a "Time to Care" public policy agenda that includes:
- Guaranteeing paid leave for all parents for the birth or adoption of a child. Today, only 40% of Americans are able to take advantage of the 12 weeks of unpaid leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
- Guaranteeing at least one week of paid sick leave for all workers. Many Americans work while sick, lowering productivity and endangering other workers.
- Guaranteeing at least three weeks of paid annual vacation leave for all workers. Studies show that 28% of all female employees and 37% of women earning less than $40,000 a year receive no paid vacation at all.
- Placing a limit on the amount of compulsory overtime work that an employer can impose, with our goal being to give employees the right to accept or refuse overtime work.
- Making it easier for Americans to choose part-time work. Hourly wage parity and protection of promotions and pro-rated benefits for part-time workers.
Employees who are family-centric (putting a higher priority on family than work) or dual-centric (making work and family equal priorities) are less likely to feel overworked. These changes also benefit business. A 2005 national study (PDF) found that employers offer family-friendly initiatives in order to (1) retain and recruit employees and (2) enhance productivity. Employee support is a result from, but not rationale for, many employers' use of more family friendly policies.