November 2, 2008
Do you know where your candidate stands on family-friendly work?
As I mentioned earlier this month, this is the first election we're seeing work/life balance issues addressed in the economic platforms of both major-party presidential candidates.
But do you actually know where Barack Obama and John McCain stand on flexible and family-friendly workplace policies? If the answer is no, not to worry. This recent NPR story, based on an investigation by the Families and Work Institute, breaks it down for you.
For example, the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act mandates that workers at companies with 50+ employees get 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they're seriously ill, have to care for a seriously ill family member, or just had or adopted a child. According to NPR, here's where the candidates stand on family leave:
"Obama supports broadening the 1993 law's reach and offering paid leave, making it more accessible to low-wage workers. He would extend job-protected leave to businesses with 25 or more employees, including those trying to cope with domestic violence and sexual assault. He would allow parents up to 24 hours of annual leave to participate in their children's academic activities at school. He would establish a $1.5 billion fund to encourage each state to adopt a paid leave system and to offset the cost to employees and employers.
McCain favors legislation such as the Family-Friendly Workplace Act, a House bill introduced this spring, which would give workers the option of banking extra hours in lieu of overtime pay."
And on sick leave, which, according to the Families and Work Institute, is only offered to 24 percent of low-wage workers (including when their kids are sick), the two camps had this to say:
"McCain doesn't support mandated paid time off; he prefers letting the marketplace decide, perhaps by letting workers bank extra hours. His proposed health care plan would address 'underlying problems,' adviser Jay Khosla said, mainly by providing a refundable $5,000 tax credit for each family and $2,500 for individuals to buy health insurance.
Obama would require employers to provide seven paid sick days a year for workers to care for their own or family members' illnesses."
But if you don't want to take NPR's word for it, see the complete transcripts from the Families and Work Institute's interviews with both the McCain and Obama campaigns on each candidate's work/life policies.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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