Press Release
American Time Use Survey Offers Stark Reminder that Access to Leave is Far from Equitable in Our Country

The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued 2011 data from the American Time Use Survey this morning. Highlights include:

  • Workers at the low end of the wage ladder have both considerably less access to paid leave and considerably less access to schedule and location flexibility than other workers.
  • Four in ten workers in the United States — 55 million — do not have access to any form of paid leave, including paid leave to use for health reasons or when a family member needs care.
  • For the 13.2 million workers in the leisure and hospitality industries, paid leave is out of reach. Just one-quarter (24.8 percent) have access. More than 22 million service workers and sales workers also do not have paid leave to use when they need time away from work.
  • Latino workers have less access to paid leave but more family caregiving responsibilities. Just 43 percent of Latinos (versus 59% of workers overall) have access to paid leave. Yet, Latinos who need to take leave in a given week are much more likely than others to need that leave to address a family member’s medical need or to take care of a child or elderly family member (12.4 percent of Latinos versus 7.4 percent of non-Latinos).
  • Just over half of workers (53.1 percent) can vary their work schedules to avoid taking leave from work but only about one-fifth (22.1 percent) can vary the location of their work instead of taking leave.

“We all get sick, face family emergencies, and need to take time away from work for other reasons,” said National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. “The tsunami of eldercare needs just around the corner will only exacerbate that reality. But millions of Americans cannot take the leave they need without jeopardizing their jobs and their economic security. The Labor Department data released today underscores just how inequitable leave is in this country. Latinos, younger workers, those in low-wage and part-time jobs, and those in the leisure and hospitality industries are much less likely than others to be able to take the time off they need. This is a country of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in terms of access to family friendly policies. That needs to change.”

“These issues are of paramount importance to workers and their families,” Ness continued. “We need Congress to: pass the Healthy Families Act so millions more workers can earn paid sick days; adopt a federal family and medical leave insurance program; and include a state paid leave fund in next year’s budget. Fair, reasonable leave policies are good for workers, families, business and the country.”

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About the National Partnership for Women & Families

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family.

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