A federal judge in Canada ruled two weeks ago that employers must reasonably accommodate child-care requests from employees. A woman employed with the Canadian Border Control claimed that she was discriminated against for having young children after the Border Control refused to allow her to work longer shifts fewer days a week. The federal court upheld a 2010 Human Rights Tribunal hearing ruling that ordered the Border Control to alter its policies. As family values moves into the forefront of employment law, businesses in Canada will have to reconsider their policies and address the concerns of parents who have concerns about child-care and maternity/paternity leave.
In the U.S., federal law allows for 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for maternity or family health, restricted to those who have been employed at least one year. In California, a broader law accommodates up to seven months unpaid, job-protected family leave, and allows employees participating in the State Disability Insurance system six weeks of partially paid leave. Many groups focused on family values and women’s rights argue that the programs for family leave in the U.S. are insufficient, and have been consistently pushing bills that would bolster state and federal laws.
Are accommodations for employees with child-care concerns on the horizon in the U.S.? How could American advocacy groups and lawyers use the Canadian ruling as a model? What sorts of provisions should exist for working parents?
Ann O'Leary, Vice President & Director of the Children and Families Program at The Center for the Next Generation
Matt Patterson, Senior Fellow at Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center For Economic Freedom, specializing in labor policy