Employment promises a ladder out of poverty for many workers and their families. That promise is unfulfilled, however, if workers lack access to good jobs, fair wages and equal opportunity. Federal laws and policies provide important standards and protections to workers, including minimum wages, protection from discrimination, and support for unemployed workers. Moreover, federal programs like job training and workforce investment train people for jobs that can provide economic security to workers and their families.
As the workforce changes, employment policies need change to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and have equal opportunity. Although women now comprise 47% of the workforce, a significant gender pay gap persists. Lack of access to sick leave hurts low-wage workers especially; 80% of low-income workers cannot take a single day off for illness, imperiling not only their physical health, but also their financial well-being. And, although wage theft affects workers throughout the entire economy, low- and moderate-income workers—those who are least able to afford it—are particularly vulnerable. Congress plays an important role in dictating policies that ensure fairness in the workplace for all workers.
S. 82—Combating the gender wage gap: Adoption of this amendment would have demonstrated the support of the Senate for combating the gender wage gap by improving the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to close legal loopholes and strengthen tools for legal recourse in cases of pay discrimination.
S. 98—Earning paid sick leave: Adoption of this amendment demonstrated the support of the Senate for requiring all employers to allow their employees to earn paid sick leave, the lack of which can imperil the physical and financial health of millions of low-wage employees.
H. 354—Prohibiting federal contracts with companies guilty of wage theft: Adoption of this amendment would have prevented certain federal funds from flowing to contracting companies that have repeatedly and/or willfully committed wage theft, effectively denying federal tax dollars to companies that deprive their workers of money they have earned.