MEDIA RELEASE: Landmark first meeting of Work & Family Balance Committee highlights need for action


The committee takes an important step forward toward addressing the struggles North Carolinians face in balancing the competing demands of work and family

RALEIGH (Jan. 20, 2010) - For North Carolina's families to stay healthy during tough times, lawmakers can and should back smart policies that promote public health and economic security. Today's inaugural meeting of the General Assembly's Joint Select Committee on Work & Family Balance is a necessary first step, family advocates say.

North Carolina is one of the first states in the nation to form a study commission to examine how labor laws have not kept pace with the changing needs of the workforce. With women now outpacing men in the labor force and Baby Boomers aging, families are struggling to balance their caregiving responsibilities with the demands of their jobs.

"Without policies such as paid sick leave, flexible work time, paid family and medical leave, North Carolina workers often must make the difficult decision to leave their sick children or parents at home without care," said Louisa Warren of the NC Justice Center, who coordinates the Paid Sick Days campaign. "Family-friendly workplace policies would help public health and improve the economic well-being of North Carolina's families." The Work & Family Balance study commission is looking into the struggles North Carolinians are facing in balancing the competing demands of work and family -- in particular, how families cope when parents don't have paid sick leave. Some 1.6 million North Carolina workers don't have access to paid sick leave.

Speakers included John Quinterno, principal at South By North Strategies, a Chapel Hill firm focusing on labor market issues, and Michael Okun, a national employment law expert with the law firm Paterson & Harkavy, LLC.

"Today's meeting is an important step forward," said Warren. "The committee has the opportunity to recommend wise, forward-thinking policies like guaranteed paid sick days - policies that will help both families and the North Carolina economy."

The committee's first meeting was today, Wednesday, January 20, at 2:00 pm in Room 415 of the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh.

The NC Justice Center is a leading organizer of the NC Paid Sick Days Campaign, which includes more than 50 organizations.