WOMEN AND FAMILIES
NETWORK advocates for policies that increase women’s economic opportunity, knowing this will result in progress for all. The needs of women and families should be integrated into federal workplace policies.
Catholic Social Justice teaches that policies, particularly in the workplace, must respect the needs of every human being to be in community with one another. Family life is an important place for personal growth and needs to be safeguarded from the ills and stress of poverty. The family, in all its forms, can teach society how to better care for its members. Catholic Social Justice requires that the people with the most need are given the most attention. The responsibility to uphold the dignity of each person means that we must evaluate our lifestyles, policies, and social institutions in terms of how they affect those suffering from the injustice of poverty. Women and children are disproportionately affected by poverty in the United States. Today, 1 in 7 women, and 1 in 5 children, are living in poverty.1
Work is important for the life of every person, but work must enrich life, not dominate it. Providing family-friendly workplace protections is necessary to build an economy that puts people, not profit, at the center. NETWORK is committed to promoting the economic stability of women living and working in our nation by eliminating the gender wage gap and creating an environment where all workers can balance work and family.
NETWORK Advocates for Federal Policies That:
End the gender wage gap
On average, women earn only $0.79 to a white man’s $1.00 per hour wage. This disparity is even more pronounced for women of color—African American women are paid $0.60, Native American women are paid $0.59, and Latina women are paid $0.55 to a white man’s $1.00 wage on average. That money adds up. Working women in the U.S. are on average paid $10,000 per year less than men, and sometimes the difference is even greater.2 While the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and more recently the Lilly Ledbetter Act, makes it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform equal work, it has not closed the gap between women’s and men’s wages. Currently, the gender wage gap will not close completely for another four decades—which will continue to hurt women and families.
Federal legislation must strengthen equal pay laws and hold employers accountable to pay men and women equal pay for equal work in all sectors. This includes lifting restrictions for women to discuss salaries in the workplace, and encouraging transparency in financial practices.
Guarantee paid family and medical leave and paid sick days for all workers
Balancing the responsibilities of work and family are challenging, particularly during times of illness or family growth. When a worker or a loved one has a serious health condition, they must recover or serve as a caretaker. In the joyful time of growing a family with pregnancy or adoption, time away from work is beneficial to care for the child. Today, only 13% of workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40% have access to personal medical leave through employer-provided short-term disability insurance.3 Similarly, when sick children are advised to stay home from school or child care, many parents without sick days cannot care for the child without risking wage or job loss. When workers are sick, they often must work despite putting themselves and others at risk. More than 43 million people do not have a single paid sick day. Even for those with access to unpaid sick days, for low-wage workers the missed wages may prove too burdensome to take the time off to properly care for an illness.
Paid leave allows families to address health and family needs without risking economic security. State-level policies have proven successful for employees and employers. It is time to level the playing field and allow all workers to earn paid family leave and paid sick days.
Encourage flexible schedules for employees and make child care accessible to all
Inflexible and unpredictable job schedules challenge people’s ability to balance work and family. Almost 30% of Americans work in jobs with varied start and stop jobs and nearly 70% of low-income workers cannot change their scheduled start or stop time if needed.4 On top of that, the cost of quality child care is rising. Balancing the daily needs of family and work is difficult in these situations, particularly when a family does not have a full-time stay-at-home caregiver.
Flexible work schedules allow parents to work around their responsibilities as the caregiver for a child.
- Equal Pay
- Paid sick days
- Protections for pregnant workers
- Paid family and medical leave, family and medical leave insurance
- Improved access to quality, affordable child care
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Flexible schedules
- Collective bargaining
- Raise the minimum wage