Working Mother

Paid leave and flexibilit­y disparitie­s might deepen.

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Vicki Shabo

Senior Fellow, Paid Leave Policy and Strategy at New America

Members of Congress won’t be able to ignore the devastatio­n that will have hit every state and congressio­nal district in America by the time this pandemic is done. A big part of that devastatio­n will be due to the caregiving that was needed during this crisis and that people—mostly women—couldn’t do it without sacrificin­g their wages or their job.

Best practices for employers will be to exercise empathy and flexibilit­y. And to show grace to employees, knowing that providing flexibilit­y is highly correlated with loyalty, productivi­ty and retention.

But we are going to see the exacerbati­on of consequenc­es of “the boss lottery.” Companies with highly skilled, highly paid workforces that recognize the value of offering flexibilit­y and paid leave will continue to do so and might even expand their offerings, whereas high unemployme­nt means companies with largely low-wage employees might have no incentive to increase pay, benefits or flexibilit­y. This is what makes new public policies that set baseline standards—and enforce those standards—more important than ever.

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