I know it’s early to be asking, and you’re busy making all the fantastic gadgets that I’ll be stalking at Toys ‘R Us this holiday season, but I have a request. Can you enlist some of your elves to come to North Carolina and make our workplaces more conducive to the needs of children and their parents? Sure, it’s not a shiny toy. It doesn’t buzz and whirr around the floor and come with a zillion small pieces that get lost in the first hours – but it’s the best gift you can give our children.
You see, right now, mothers and fathers are being forced to choose family financial security over their family. They’re spending time at work they’ll never get back with their children, and breaking their necks over childcare bills that could send their children to college 10 years from now. Surely I have your attention. Below is my ‘wish list’. See what you can do.
P.S. We’ve all been extra good this year, well, with the exception of some lawmakers. Just give them coal, they’ll burn it.
- State law guaranteeing access to paid sick days. A Public Policy Poll found that >>62% of North Carolina voters support a state law guaranteeing access to paid sick days. Based on poll results, this is a nonpartisan issue. Forty-two percent of participants identified themselves as Democrat, 31% identified as Republican, and the remainder as identified as Independent.
- North Carolina companies should pay at least a living wage to their employees. >>Sixty-three percent of the poll participants support local living wage policies at the city or state level.
- Job flexibility. This is a priority for President Obama, as detailed in >>this op-ed. Family life doesn’t stop happening during the ‘9 to 5’ workday; employees should not have to choose between a child’s school performance and tasks at work that they could get done at another time during the day. It’s time for employers to treat us like adults and trust that we will ultimately get the job done.
- Access to affordable childcare. According to >>statistics from North Carolina’s Smart Start program, the average annual cost of childcare for an infant in NC is over $9,000 and almost $8,000 for a four-year-old. With the median salary in North Carolina being $45,000, childcare costs about a fifth of a person’s pre-tax income. >>Research from Pew indicates a growing number of women leave their jobs to care for children because they cannot afford childcare — and never make it back into the workforce.
- Longer paid maternity leave and job protection. >>The United State lags behind most of the developed world when it comes to maternity leave policies. A majority of countries provide more than 10 weeks of maternity leave, and central European countries offer mothers as much as three years. Our Canadian neighbors get a year of maternity leave.