We all know that people are losing jobs, companies are shutting down and, as I wrote the other day, the unemployment rate for women is now at 5.3%, a high that has not been seen in over thirty years.
Women who are still employed are finding that times have changed in the workplace during this unstable economy, as companies are cutting back on family friendly opportunities in an effort to save some money. According to the latest issue of Working Mother magazine, companies in 2005 were much more likely to feature family friendly benefits than they are now. What kind of losses are being experienced? Some of the same bonuses that drew many employees to these positions in the first place.
For one thing, telecommuting is seeing a cut now, which not only affords some flexibility in an employee’s schedule but also provides excellent benefits, with one of the best perks in this day of $4 a gallon gas being felt in the pocketbook.
Some mothers who were working full time in the workforce have had to cut back hours. A friend of mine works for a very large department store, one that is basically a household name across the country. She’s been there for a few years now and has worked her way up the chain, but recently was dropped back to part time because business has slowed. This means a loss of benefits in addition to a paycheck cut.
Maternity leave has seen a cutback in both the amount of time offered and the amount of pay offered. The Families and Work Institute says that only 16% of companies offer the paid benefit today while in 1998 27% did.
Those working in the home are seeing a change in the workforce as well. I can attest to the fact that business has slowed considerably, even in the past six months, than when I first started my company several years ago. Another friend of mine has seen her business stall as well, while yet another woman I know had to close up shop due to low sales and high overhead.
Has the economy affected your job, even if you have not lost the position? Are you seeing cutbacks in family friendly policies such as telecommuting, or are things pretty much the same as they were a year ago or even longer?