Session: Addressing Workplace Inequities through State, Local, and Worksite Policy (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

221 Addressing Workplace Inequities through State, Local, and Worksite Policy

Saturday, January 15, 2022: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Independence BR B, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Work and Work-Life Policies and Programs
Symposium Organizer:
Kess Ballentine, MA, MSW, PhD, University of Pittsburgh
Jeffrey Shook, PhD, JD, University of Pittsburgh
Unpredictable schedules and lacking access to paid leave are two features of the precarious labor market that have been connected to adverse outcomes while stable schedules and paid leave are beneficial. Additionally, these policies are experienced differently across the labor market. For example, Black workers are more likely than White workers to work with unpredictable schedules, while Latinx workers are less likely than both to have access to paid leave. Lack of access to paid sick and family leave has particular implications for workers providing care to family members, who are disproportionately women. The pandemic has laid bare the hardships of low-wage workers and how the lack of caregiving infrastructure exacerbates inequalities by race and gender.

Protections are not yet available at the federal level. The U.S. remains the last industrialized country to have no federally guaranteed paid family leave policy and one of only two countries to not have paid sick leave. Access to fair scheduling and paid family leave policies is one way to work toward workplace equity. The three studies in this symposium examine the effects of implementing these policies on low-wage workers at three levels - state, local, and individual workplace, to consider opportunities to promote or limit workplace equity across these settings. The first paper investigates the effects of state-level paid sick leave policies in five states using the American Community Survey. Results from difference-in-differences models suggest that paid sick leave mandates increased women's labor force participation and reduced job separations. They may be especially beneficial for women parenting young children.

The second paper uses a comparative organizational case study to examine the implementation of Seattle's 2017 Secure Scheduling Ordinance at individual sites within national chains. Results show that national firms provided little implementation support to individual worksites, leading to inconsistent implementation of this local policy. Workers were forced to choose between more consistent hours or higher earnings, which has implications for designing frameworks to guide federal legislation efforts.

The third paper examines how low-wage healthcare workers experience paid time off policies at individual workplaces, using two in-depth qualitative interviews with 21 single parents. This study explores how workers used paid time off and how interpersonal discrimination and problematic workplace structures complicate parents' access to paid time off and punish unplanned caregiving. This study further shows that frontline implementation of beneficial policies can reinforce racist and sexist workplace structures, maintaining inequity.

Together these papers inform social workers involved in labor advocacy and research. Foremost, state or federal policy is likely needed to address systemic workplace inequalities born of racism, classism, and sexism. Second, regardless of the level of policy implementation, analysis of implementation through both qualitative and quantitative approaches is essential. Examining the realities of individual workplaces and/or workers' experiences of policies alongside national data provides greater understanding of policy effectiveness to support workers and address inequities. Last, workplace policy remains an important site for advocacy toward structural equity where advocates of labor, gender, and racial justice can work together for change. on 4-30-2021-->

* noted as presenting author
The Impact of Paid Sick Leave Mandates on Women's Employment
Meredith Slopen, MSW, Columbia University
The Merits and Drawbacks of Local Level Employment Policy: The Case of Fair Workweek Ordinances
Susan Lambert, PhD, University of Chicago; Anna Haley, PhD, Rutgers University
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