Selected Issues In Work-Family Policy; A Brief Overview - Fact Sheet


Fact Sheet

In responding to Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 13 (2006), the Bureau briefly surveyed what other states are doing in three work-family policy areas: family leave and medical leave, caregiver support, and child care. The salient findings of the survey are highlighted below:

  1. Family, Medical, and Maternity Disability Leaves
    • Hawaii is among five states that use a more expansive definition of "parent" than the federal Family and Medical Leave Act's definition of a parent for whose illness an employee may take family leave. Hawaii defines "parent" as a "biological, foster, or adoptive parent, a parent-in-law, a stepparent, a legal guardian, a grandparent, or a grandparent-in-law."
    • Hawaii and several states include what in Hawaii are referred to as reciprocal beneficiaries, but Hawaii is the only state that includes grandparents and grandparents-in-law in its definition of family member for the purposes of family leave.
    • At least 40 states, including Hawaii, have laws or regulations allowing public sector employees to use sick leave to care for certain ill family members. However, significantly fewer states require private sector employers to allow substitution of sick leave for family leave. Hawaii is among at least six other states that have laws requiring private sector employers to allow workers to use their sick leave to care for certain ill family members.
    • Five states (Hawaii, California, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) and Puerto Rico have state-administered temporary disability programs to provide partial wage replacement for employees who are temporarily disabled for medical reasons, including pregnancy and childbirth.
    • In 2002, California became the first state in the nation to provide paid family leave by establishing the Paid Family Leave Insurance Program, where an employee is allowed to use his or her own temporary disability insurance to care for a family member with a serious health condition. No other state offers this option of paid family leave to provide non-maternity related care for a family member.
    • Hawaii's family, medical, maternity, maternity disability, and parental leave polices appear to be among the most generous when compared to other states.
  2. Caregiver Support
    • Employed caregivers make personal, economic, and career sacrifices that affect their families, employers, and communities. They experience increased absenteeism, decreased physical well-being, diminished earnings, and loss of savings due to caregiving expenses. They also report needing flexibility and support at work.
    • The growth of America's older population (60 years of age and older) and the significant increase of women in the workforce will continue to have major impacts on employed caregivers and their employers.
    • States receive funds through the federal National Family and Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) to provide support services to: family caregivers of elderly persons; older individuals providing care to persons with developmental disabilities; and grandparents and other relatives who provide care for children 18 years of age and under.
    • Like other states that did not already have well-developed caregiver support programs in place prior to the implementation of the NFCSP in 2000, Hawaii faces limited funding sources and workforce shortages of trained long-term care providers, such as social workers, nurses, and personal care workers.
    • Some states have continued to fund their own state-funded programs to complement the NFCSP. At least six states use alternative funding sources, such as lottery or tobacco settlement funds, to support family caregivers. State revenues have been used to provide convenient and thorough access to information sources, establish public/private partnerships, and provide respite care.
    • Labor union-sponsored assistance to caregivers and private sector initiatives in caregiving have helped to mitigate the multi-faceted needs of employed caregivers.
  3. Child Care
    • For many families, market rate child care costs are out of reach. Federal child care subsidy programs can help income eligible parents pursue job training, employment opportunities, and economic self-sufficiency. State funded child care programs also help eligible families access child care in a variety of settings.
    • Hawaii's child care assistance policies for subsidized child care programs have kept pace with other states in the areas of income eligibility limits, waiting lists of eligible families, co-payments, and reimbursement rates to families for child care fees. Hawaii is generally doing well in helping low income families with accessing child care. However, families who do not quality for subsidized child care have limited options.
    • Federal and state tax provisions for child and dependent care can offer some financial assistance for families with their child care expenses. A family may be able to reduce its federal income tax bill by claiming the federal child and dependent care tax credit, which is not refundable. Hawaii's child and dependent care tax credit is viewed as generous, when compared to other states, because it is refundable.
    • Best practice models in child care can be found in the public and private sectors. The Department of Defense child care program used a systemic approach to providing child care by simultaneously addressing quality, affordability, and availability. Some states in the civilian sector have made gains in emulating the Department of Defense's core strategies, but have suffered setbacks due to federal and state funding constraints.
    • Private sector initiatives in child care range from on-site care, extended care, back up care, financial assistance with child care, and flexible work arrangements to before- and after- school care.