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January 6 2010

Policy Brief #27: FMLA Benefits for Part-Time Workers Would Hurt Those They Are Supposed to Help

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Carrie L. Lukas

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Part-time workers typically receive fewer benefits than full-time workers, and are not covered by some labor laws that apply to full-time workers.  Some suggest that this is unfair to part-time workers, and urge the federal government to extend federal laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, so that part-time workers receive the same benefits as others.

Yet extending employment regulations to part-time workers would backfire on many.  Mandated benefits raise the cost of employment.  As a result of these new costs, businesses may reduce take home pay, combine jobs to eliminate part-time positions, or seek to outsource work.

One of the most troubling potential outcomes is that expanding employment regulations could reduce job opportunities.  Many young Americans get their first job experience through a part-time position.  These part-time jobs help them build necessary job skills and experience.  Women with children also often seek out part-time positions, and if employers have more incentive to eliminate part-time jobs in favor of full-time slots, more women will face that difficult choice of whether to work full-time or stay home with kids, without a compromise option.  Lower skilled workers are also likely to suffer as a result of rising employment costs and the increased administrative burden associated with such regulations.

Part-time work is the preferred option of millions of Americans.  Even those part-time workers who would prefer full-time jobs are better off when at least part-time work is available.  Particularly in this economic down-turn, policymakers need to focus on lowering, not raising, the cost of creating jobs.


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Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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