Spousal Supports Provided by Employers
- Michelle Janning
Document type: Encyclopedia Entry
Appears in: Work and Family Encyclopedia
- Changing Families
- Employee Benefits
- Work and Family
As Sweet and Moen (2004) articulated, “[m]ost workers in the United States, as well as other developed countries, are married to other workers; the dual-earner arrangement is the new ‘normal’” (268). Couples where both partners work for pay continue to represent a growing proportion of the American workforce, and issues surrounding accommodating dual-career couples are increasingly part of the list of concerns among potential job applicants (Chadud et al., 2007). In order to better handle logistics and scheduling of work and family demands, some couples intentionally seek out employment from the same employer (Moen & Sweet, 2002). Accompanying spouse and partner benefits are clustered in an increasing number of occupations, and the population of dual-career and dual-job partnerships is growing, especially among professionals. More women have entered the paid workforce than ever before, often entering with high education levels and career-specific professional skills. Because of this, the career strategies of couples have changed to attempt to accommodate this new kind of work-family pattern. The breadwinner-homemaker model of marriage is less common than in the past. Workplace policies that are meant to ensure or enhance gender equity have become normative, or at least are part of the discourse surrounding good business practices. Providing spousal support in the form of paid work for an employee is one way that employers are demonstrating recognition that the traditional model of hiring without consideration of the family of employees is outdated. In addition, regarding one type of spousal benefit, equality in career prioritization between husband and wife is, “one of the motivations for forming and maintaining a coworking relationship” (Sweet & Moen, 2004: 267). Thus, the impetus for creating workplace policies that support dual-earner marriages and partnerships is occurring at both the employer and employee level.