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Clinic prepares state workplace flexibility report

June 09, 2010

Students in the Work-Life Policy Unit of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s Civil Justice Clinic have prepared a new national report that calls for expansion of access to workplace flexibility in work forces around the country.

Under the direction of the unit’s director, Marcy Karin, associate clinical professor, the law students drafted the white paper, “The Legal Framework for States as Employers-of-Choice in Workplace Flexibility: A Case Study of Arizona and Michigan.” It was on behalf of the State as Employers-of-Choice Project of the Twiga Foundation, a client of the clinic.

The report provides an overview of the legal framework for flexible work arrangements, time off and career flexibility for state employees in Arizona and Michigan. It then offers observations for other state agencies, other states and other employers to become employers-of-choice by increasing their workers’ access to additional workplace flexibility.

“Helping the Twiga Foundation bring states’ experiences with work-life law and policy to the national conversation has been a wonderful experience for Clinic students,” Karin said. “By taking the lead on this paper for their client, students were trained in legislative lawyering, which allowed them to learn about how the text of statutes, regulations and judicial interpretations of those laws interact with policy and politics.”

In addition to formulating, researching and drafting the paper, cinic students worked with their client to solicit and incorporate feedback from earlier drafts of the report with personnel in both states, as well as some major D.C., stakeholders, Karin said.

The students, Gregory Fetterman, Meghan T. McCauley and MacKenzie Deal, graduated from law school last May.

“Providing us with the opportunity to learn about state laws that govern things like alternative work schedules and time off for servicemembers, the legislative history and current application of these laws, and how they relate to our client’s goal of providing additional access to flexibility, allowed us as students to develop tools we can use in the future to impact others laws and policy,” Deal said.

To read the students’ blog post about the report, click here.

The States as Employers-of-Choice Project released the report in May on the heels of President Obama’s remarks at the historic White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility. The forum was intended to discuss best practices for helping workplaces become more flexible, including ways to make the federal government a model employer.

Among the white paper’s conclusions:

• Workplace flexibility provides multiple benefits to states as employers, to state employees and to the community.
• Workplace flexibility helps the government respond to problems as they arise.
• Successful model flexibility programs exist and can be replicated by others.
• Leadership is a critical component of successful workplace for states as employers.

The Civil Justice Clinic’s Work-Life Policy Unit offers quality representation to nonprofit clients working on thoughtful public policy, such as the proper role of government in supporting the needs of employees, employers and the community in achieving greater access to flexible work arrangements, time off and other work-life issues.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law