REPORT: Time to Care - How North Carolina Can Promote Health, Support Workers, and Strengthen Families

By Sabine Schoenbach with Louisa B. Warren
NC Justice Center
December 2011

With high unemployment and a severe jobs shortfall increasingly threatening the economic security of North Carolina’s working families, it is imperative that state leaders develop policies that not only create jobs but also sustain employment. Workplace policies that promote family economic security, such as paid sick days and family leave insurance, allow workers to keep much-needed wages and provide job protection when inevitable life events arise. At the same time, these policies can create cost-saving solutions for employers.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Many of North Carolina’s workers have family responsibilities. In the great majority of families with children in North Carolina, both parents are in the labor force. Nearly three out of four North Carolinians caring for an adult family member, a partner, or a friend suffering from a chronic illness work at a paying job.
  • Few protections currently exist to address the ubiquitous life events and caregiving responsibilities of North Carolina’s working families. There are no federal or state laws that guarantee paid time off for short- or long-term illness or to care for loved ones in North Carolina. No law in North Carolina addresses the need for workplace flexibility, and there is no specific law protecting workers from Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD). Further, almost half of the private-sector workforce in North Carolina has no access to paid sick days through their employers.
  • Access to work-family protections is crucial for, but largely unavailable to, North Carolina’s lowincome workers. Low-income workers are more likely to have significant caregiving responsibilities but also inflexible or unpredictable schedules. A reliance on part-time work, multiple jobs and a limited patchwork of child-care options can exacerbate work-family conflict. Low-income workers are much less likely than better-paid workers to have access to wage and job protections such as paid sick days and paid family leave.
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