Improving job quality and economic security is one of the five key strategies in KCEP’s “Economic Agenda for a Thriving Commonwealth.” Kentucky can make real progress in these areas by updating existing and enacting new commonsense job quality standards. The successful experience of states that raise standards shows businesses benefit through increased productivity, reduced turnover and stronger consumer spending. Our whole commonwealth will benefit when paychecks better reflect the contributions Kentuckians make through work every day, and when work supports rather than detracts from leading healthy, fulfilling lives.
All Texans should be able to care for themselves or a loved one if they get sick, regardless of what kind of job they do or how much they earn. Our new policy brief examines the inadequate access to paid sick days in Texas and highlights how businesses and families can thrive when workers are able to earn paid sick days. Across the country, there is growing momentum and support for city, county, and statewide paid sick days policies, which require employers to provide a certain number of paid sick days to workers each year based on the number of hours worked.
Paid family and medical leave has become a top-tier policy issue. Over the past several years, a number of high-profile corporations have announced new and expanded paid parental leave programs. However, access to paid family leave remains primarily available to the already privileged. In 2017, only 13 percent of private sector employees had access to paid family leave, including 24 percent of the most highly paid tenth, but only 4 percent of the lowest paid tenth. If left solely to private sector initiative, most U.S. workers will continue to lack access to extended paid leaves to care for a new child or deal with serious health conditions. Workers who already face obstacles to achieving and maintaining good health and economy security will largely be left behind, including those in smaller companies, lower-income employees, workers of color, and gig economy workers.
The policy that Washington adopted is a strong one, based on public health research, learnings from other state programs, and community input. But it is not perfect. The discussion below points to best current practices and options to consider in designing a new program.
The retail sector is an integral part of the Los Angeles landscape with almost half a million workers in the county, and 147,157 workers in the city. Retail makes up one-tenth of the private sector workforce in the county and is its second largest employer. Yet more than half of the county’s workforce earn low wages. In the past few years, local and statewide policies have focused on transforming low-wage work, including a raise in the minimum wage, increased worker protections, and required paid time off. Despite the statewide strengthening of workers’ rights protections, the unreliable hours and unpredictable schedules endemic in the retail industry mean these benefits become inaccessible to many workers. In part, the retail industry relies on scheduling practices that are not good for workers, such as forcing them to wait for their weekly schedules with only a few days notice. These practices not only undercut workers’ hours and their expectations thereof, but also their incomes, and can make it nearly impossible for workers to realize full and healthy lives.
Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector explores worker hours and scheduling practices for “frontline floor” staff that include salespersons, cashiers, stockers, and food workers in large and chain stores. We used a participatory and research justice approach and worked with students, workers, and community partners to collect and analyze the data. Using mixed-sampling methodology, we collected a total of 818 surveys. In addition, we analyzed government data and conducted an extensive review of existing policy and academic literature on the topic.