Work-Family Policy


You will need to examine both federally mandated (FMLA, etc.) and employer provided “family friendly” policies available to Americans. I have put together a series of readings for you to draw on as you consider and write your paper, in addition to the other readings that will be provided for you. First, I would like you to visit Working Mothers “100 Best Companies” List (here you can focus on the 10 best to start and pick out others if you’d like): NOTE: This magazine is geared toward mothers, but all of these policies benefit fathers as well (directly or indirectly), and companies good for women’s advancement mean that there is higher earning potential for women contributing to any form of family (i.e. opportunities for mothers means more potential household income and/or security even if a mother is out of the labor force).

1. Your first goal is to come up with a list of “best practices”, or a sort of an ideal but realistic work-family policy profile. You will likely pick and choose policies from different employers. Here are some of the “best in class” links on different aspects of these policies, including:

Parental Leave,

Employer subsidized/onsite Childcare,


Career Advancement,

Don’t spend too long (up to one hour MAX) looking around this site, mainly I want you to see what’s out there at the “top” companies. Your “best” policies should hit the big issues (parental leave, childcare, flexibility, etc.) but you can also mention some of the nice additional related perks offered by some companies (like sabbaticals for personal development or tuition waivers to go back to school), as these also relate to work-family balance.

2. Next I want you to read through the pdf from CEPR titled “Parental Leave Policies in 21 Countries” that talks about federally mandated parental leave in each of 21 countries. Although this covers only parental leave and not other family friendly policies, you can assume that the countries who have more generous leave policies are also more generous socially in things like subsidized childcare, health insurance, education, and general vacation time (in Quebec families have access to free health care for the birth & health care of a child, plus $7/day for subsidized day care, all higher education is subsidized so college is more affordable than in the US).  I would like you to think about the leave policies themselves (amount of time, paid/un-paid, paternal leave) but also to think about WHO is eligible in these countries versus the US.

3. Finally, you can draw on your notes and discussion from class as well as your class readings and the supplemental readings I’ve placed in this folder in considering the following questions for your paper.



Reaction Paper: Please write 2-3 pages on the following.

  1. Which family policies (government or employer based) were most important to you, and why (think about your personal/planned choices and preferences, but also about in terms of parent and child outcomes associated with parental leave, etc.)? Do you think this changed at all after you had exposure to the cites and readings provided? How many people in the US are really eligible for these policies?
  2. What 1 or 2 things surprised you the most when reading over what’s available to American families and what’s available in other countries? Was there anything about these specific policies on the Working Mother website you had never considered (like paternity leave or childcare) important but now you do?
  3. The attractive mandated policies in more liberal nations obviously come at a cost (usually in the form of higher taxes). In your opinion, is it better to have policies based at the government level or the employer level and why? How might these 2 different sources of benefits affect things like gender, class, and race equity/equality, in other words, how might some people benefit more or less under each of these scenarios?
  4. How about the gender equity at home; how might these leave policies shift power, risks, and responsibilities differentially for mothers and fathers at home?  How might policies discriminate on one or more of these other social locations (gender, race, sexual orientation, class, marital/relationship status)?

You are more than welcome to cite outside references, but it is not required. Make sure to cite all readings used in your paper

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