The number of parents working during the evenings, nights and weekends is on
Parental evening and night work can have negative consequences for children and
families. Parents who work non-standard shifts are more likely to have children
who score poorly on math, vocabulary, and reading tests; who repeat a year; and
who are suspended from school. Families with adults who work the night and
evening shifts report lower-quality home environments, and shift-working couples
have higher divorce rates.
Evening, night, weekend, and holiday work are typically not occurring by choice.
Over three-fifths of U.S. employees working nonstandard schedules do so because
they "could not get another job," because it is "mandated by the employer," or
because of "the nature of the work."
Leave for illness and family care
Parents play a crucial role in caring for their children's health care needs.
Parental involvement helps children recover more rapidly from illnesses and
injuries. Parental involvement is equally critical in the case of children's mental
health. Parents who have paid sick days are more likely to care for their children
themselves when they are sick as well as to provide preventive health care.
Sick adults also fare better when they receive support and care from family
members. For example, social supports have been linked to reduced severity and
improved survival rates for patients with heart problems.
Paid sick days are crucial to the ability of employees to meet their own health
needs. When sick employees come to work, they may spread infectious illnesses
or reduce productivity. A sick adult cannot perform to his or her best ability at
work, care for children and dependent adults, or participate in the community as
well as he or she could when in good health.
Can we improve conditions for working families?
There is an enormous payoff to improving working conditions--from lowering long-term
family poverty to improving population health and education and increasing their
associated economic and social benefits. The data does not support the concern that good
working conditions lead to job loss; none of these protections is associated with higher
unemployment rates on a national level. Globally, the most economically competitive
countries provide, on average, longer parental leave, as well as more leave to care for
Appendix: Data Sources