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Work and family - what are companies doing?

A changing workforce and changes in family roles over the last 30 years have brought the issues of work and family to the forefront. How are companies addressing the needs of a workforce that is nearly half women, and one with many single parents of both sexes? Further, increasing longevity has sandwiched many workers between the needs of their children and those Of their aging parents.

The controversy surrounding the Family-Medical Leave Bill, vetoed by President Bush in 1990, as well as increased activity on the state level, led FEI's committee on Employee Benefits (CEB) to survey FEI members to learn what benefits companies are already providing to accommodate the family needs of their employees. The proposed legislation would mandate providing employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child or for the serious illness of the employee or an immediate family member.

As might be expected, the survey reveals that the larger the company, the more benefits it provides. All but two companies responding to the survey offer some type of paid leave of absence. Paid disability leave is offered by 91 percent of the responding companies, followed by bereavement (80 percent) and military (68 percent). Fewer than 25 percent of the respondents provide paid leaves for education, adoption, paternity, or child or elderly care.

Unpaid leaves are already provided by 93 percent of the responding companies. Unpaid personal leave for unspecified reasons is offered by 73 percent, while 55 percent offer unpaid military leave. A substantial number of companies do provide unpaid leave for adoption and paternity (38 percent), child care (34 percent), and elderly care (29 percent). See the chart below for a summary of the leave policies of the survey respondents.

Many businesses are attempting to assist employees with the care of their dependents, Spending accounts to cover dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars are the most popular benefit offered. These provide employees with important tax advantages at minimal out-of-pocket cost to the employer. Child care spending accounts are offered by 61 percent of the respondents, but only 30 percent offer elderly care spending accounts.

Referral services to assist employees in making dependent care arrangements is the next most often available benefit, but, again, companies are more likely to offer this arrangement for child care (41 percent) than for elderly care (16 percent). A few companies offer child care centers or financial support to community centers. The companies offering child care centers generally contract out the management of the facility. None of the companies offer an elderly care center. Cost and liability are the primary reasons cited for not offering more child care assistance, while insufficient employee need is cited for the rejection of elderly care programs.

Companies cited as "family-friendly" frequently provide flexible work arrangements to accommodate the needs of employees. These can include flexible hours, compressed work weeks, home-based work, job sharing, or permanent part-time work. Flexible hours are offered by 63 percent of the respondents, compressed work weeks and home-based work are each offered by 30 percent, and job sharing is offered by 27 percent.

Regular or permanent part-time work is the most frequently offered of the flexible work arrangements. However, a large proportion of companies offering this opportunity are in fields that traditionally rely on large numbers of part-time workers--education, construction, consulting, insurance, service, hospitals, and restaurants.

Survey methodology and demographics

FEI's Committee on Employee Benefits sent questionnaires to all members of CEB, to 220 members of other FEI technical committees, and to an additional 2,000 FEI members. The 7-percent total response rate reflects an 88-percent response from CEB members, a 24-percent response from members of FEI's other technical committees, and a 4-percent response from the 2,000 additional FEI members.

Manufacturing firms make up 48 percent of the total 161 respondents, service firms account for 23 percent, and finance and insurance for 17 percent. Of the total number of respondents, 33 percent employ from 26 to 1,000 workers; 35 percent employ from 1,001 to 10,000 workers; and 32 percent employ over 10,000 workers. Two-thirds of the manufacturing firms employ over 1,000 workers, as do three-quarters of the service firms.

What's Up

* OPEB Workshops:

Grand Hyatt, New York, NY, June 1, 1992

Sheraton O'Hare, Chicago, IL, June 2, 1992

Radisson Hotel, Atlanta, GA, June 3, 1992

Marriott Airport, Dallas, TX, June 8, 1992

Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, Los Angeles, CA, June 9, 1992 * FEI Canada's Annual Conference,

Sheraton Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 18-20, 1992 * New Strategies for Maximizing Shareholder Value,

The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, IL, Septemver 14-15, 1992 * FEI's 61st Annual Conference,

Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, CA,

October 25-28, 1992 * FEI's 23rd IAFEI World Congress,

Madrid, Spain, October 25-28, 1992 * FEI's 11th Current Financial Reporting

Issues Conference,

Grand Hyatt, New York, NY November 16-17, 1992
COPYRIGHT 1992 Financial Executives International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:From FEI
Author:Deitsch, Mimi
Publication:Financial Executive
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Meet FEI's 1992-93 chairman.
Next Article:Balancing act: regulation and ethics.

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