Meng Introduces Legislation to Promote Family-Friendly Policies in the Workplace to Help Parents Return to the Workforce Following the COVID-19 Pandemic
Jul 30, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) announced today that she introduced legislation which aims to promote family-friendly policies in the workplace to help parents who left their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis, return to the workforce following the pandemic.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, many parents have been forced to leave the workforce in order to meet the unprecedented demands of caregiving, remote schooling, housework and other family responsibilities. This has especially impacted mothers, particularly moms of color, as there are some two million fewer women – including one million fewer moms – in the labor force than there were before the pandemic began.
Meng’s bill, the Honoring Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, seeks to motivate businesses to provide a healthier and easier work-life balance for hardworking families.
“We must do more to promote positive work environments so that working parents are able to return to the labor force as soon as possible, and my legislation would be a major boost in implementing policies to help in that critical effort,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Working parents have faced enormous challenges during the pandemic, and we must make sure that their working environments are well suited for them as they make their way back to the workforce. We cannot leave working parents out of our nation’s recovery as we rebound from the pandemic. We must assist them so that they can resume and advance their careers and once again receive a paycheck without sacrificing the needs of their children and families. Nobody should have to choose between their work or their family.”
Specifically, Meng’s measure would direct the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a national certification program that recognizes exemplary family-friendly business policies. It would recognize and incentivize employers who commit to helping employees better juggle their family obligations and work responsibilities.
This certification program is intended to be similar to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program that helps consumers identify energy efficient products, and would evaluate businesses on a number of policies, including:
Paid sick days for workers;
Child care subsidies;
Reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees;
Assistance paying for or referring workers to fertility or adoption services;
Paid family leave of at least 12 weeks per year; and/or
Flexible hours – or remote work policies – once parents return to work after a birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
“By redesigning and investing in the workplace to be family-friendly, we are ultimately strengthening the wellbeing of children and families, businesses, and the economy,” added Meng. “My measure is a commonsense initiative to improve the lives of working families in New York and all across America, and I urge all of my colleagues in the House support it.”
The Honoring Family-Friendly Workplaces Act has been endorsed by the National Partnership for Women and Families, Marshall Plan for Moms, MomsRising, Women’s March and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).
The bill was introduced with 14 cosponsors. It follows the Marshall Plan for Moms, a measure Meng introduced in February that provides a framework to revitalize and restore mothers in the workforce.
“Employers that adopt family-friendly policies raise the bar for industry standards and promote better state and federal policies,” said Debra Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women and Families. “We commend Rep. Meng for introducing the Honoring Family-Friendly Workplaces Act to recognize employers that provide critical benefits like paid family and medical leave and paid sick days. These worthwhile investments improve the lives of employees, their families and communities – and are good for business.”
"We have a once in a generation opportunity to reimagine the future of work and rebuild our economy in a way that is inclusive, equitable, and values our labor for parents, especially for moms,” said Reshma Saujani, Founder of Marshall Plan for Moms and Girls Who Code. “The Honoring Family-Friendly Workplaces Act ensures that we not only get working parents back to work, but that they can thrive in their careers."
“Moms have been disproportionately pushed out of the jobs we need to support our families during the pandemic, with moms of color experiencing compounded economic and health harms due to structural racism,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO of MomsRising. “As a result, women’s labor force participation is at a 30-year low, which is a huge setback for families, businesses, gender and racial equality, and our economy. The Honoring Family-Friendly Workplaces Act will support the care infrastructure our country urgently needs by recognizing employers with exemplary family-friendly policies. MomsRising is proud to endorse this bill.”
"Working parents, especially working mothers of color, need support to create healthier work-life balance to prioritize the needs of both our families and our professional lives,” said Rachel Carmona, Executive Director of Women's March. “When women are economically secure, this can impact the entire family's stability. The Honoring Family-Friendly Workplaces Act would establish a family-friendly standard for employers to meet that recognizes the significant contributions that parents, particularly mothers, make to the workforce."
"Unemployment rates for Asian American and Pacific Islander women nearly tripled as a result of the pandemic," Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). "This is on top of the disproportionate wage gap that has plagued certain subgroups of Asian American and Pacific Islander women. The Honoring Family-Friendly Workplaces Act is grounded in common sense and I applaud Rep. Meng’s leadership to create family-positive work environments so working parents aren't forced to live in the endless cycle of choosing between our livelihoods and the well-being of our families."