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Senate Committee Holds Roundtable Discussion on Working Women

On May 20, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hosted “Economic Security for Working Women – A Roundtable Discussion.

Speaking in support of paid sick leave policies, Ellen Bravo, executive director, Family Values at Work, said, “FMLA [Family and Medical Leave Act (P.L. 103-3)] was a great first step for families – but as our economy and our families have changed, so too must our laws. The FMLA leaves out more than 40 percent of the workforce. It does not include routine illness or preventive care. While an employee covered by FMLA could take leave to care for her father if he had a heart attack, that same employee could be fired for taking Dad to the doctor to get his cholesterol down and prevent a heart attack in the first place. Furthermore, many of those who are covered are unable to take the time they need because it is unpaid. In 2012, two and a half times as many people as in 2000 needed leave and were eligible but didn’t take it, mostly because they couldn’t afford it. Many others went back from leave too early, without fully recovering.”

Speaking on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management, Gayle Troy, human resource manager, Globe Manufacturing Company, LLC, said, “We have found that one of the best ways to retain talented and dedicated employees is to create an effective and flexible workplace, with generous benefits and innovative workplace flexibility policies. Our workplace flexibility practices help meet the work-life needs of our workforce while also ensuring business operations continue…As a small company, Globe is creative in providing employee benefits and flexible work strategies. These employee benefits have contributed to our company’s 93 percent employee retention rate. Higher employee retention leads to greater economic security and stability for our workforce. Organizations like ours want to be able to continue to manage our workplace in ways that work for our company culture and that help us meet our business objectives, including our financial sustainability.

The following witnesses also testified:

  • Neera Tanden, president, Center for American Progress;
  • Amy Traub, senior policy analyst, Demos;
  • Fatima Goss Graves, vice president, Education and Employment, National Women’s Law Center;
  • Lori Pelletier, executive secretary-treasurer, Connecticut State Federation of Labor;
  • Armanda Legros, Jamaica Estates, NY; and
  • Rhea Lana Riner, president, Rhea Lana’s, Inc.
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