Include Family-Friendly Workplace Benefits in Existing Laws
Part of a Series
Federal contractors—covered by the Service Contract Act—are required to provide prevailing fringe benefits to their service employees’ performing work under the contract. This act covers approximately one-quarter of all federal contract workers. Required benefits include vacation and holiday pay, health benefits, retirement benefits, disability benefits, and sick pay. But the Service Contract Act has not been interpreted to include family leave. Yet unpaid, job-protected family and medical leave is prevalent in the United States—even in small businesses—which are not covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. Indeed, more than 70 percent of all small businesses provide at least some job-protected family leave to their employees. Enforcement of the Service Contract Act should ensure access to such leave.
Moreover, under current policies, the calculation of prevailing benefits only examines benefits prevailing in the private sector; it does not include benefits prevailing in the federal workforce, even though many federal contract employees work side by side with federal employees. And the calculation of prevailing benefits provided by federal contractors working under a collective bargaining agreement may not capture the range of robust family-friendly policies offered under such agreements. The Secretary of Labor should update the fringe-benefit regulations covering the Service Contract Act to ensure that family-friendly benefits are included to the greatest extent possible under the law.
For more of this topic, please see:
- Making Government Work for Families, by Ann O’Leary.