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September 15 2017

Government rules can make workplaces less accommodating to women

via Washington Post
by Carrie L. Lukas

The Sept. 10 editorial “Casting light on the ‘wage gap’ ” explained that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is reviewing an Obama-era rule to require companies with more than 100 employees to provide the government with additional data related to employees’ earnings, sex, race and other factors. The editorial described the need to balance added costs for businesses against the benefits of additional transparency, which would discourage discrimination and help close the gap between women’s and men’s earnings.

The editorial overlooked that additional reporting requirements can discourage companies from offering women (and men) nontraditional work opportunities and providing flexibility for employees.

Research shows that female workers value flexible work arrangements and are sometimes willing to trade some income for other accommodations. Under the new rule, a company would be less likely to consider the request of an employee who wanted to leave the office every day at 4 p.m. in exchange for a reduction in pay. Businesses would be concerned about how such decisions would show up in the statistics as government officials searched for evidence of discrimination.

Government forms cannot capture the many factors that employers and employees consider when making decisions about work and compensation. Even well-intentioned regulations can backfire in making workplaces less flexible and less accommodating to women.

Carrie Lukas, Great Falls

The writer is president

of Independent Women’s Forum.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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