Work-Life Balance: A Pipe Dream for Working Parents?

July 23, 2015 | | Fortune |

So can a working parent ever find work-life balance? For the answer, we have to look at how our perception of “overtime” has changed from its original intent, says Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, and author of Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over.

“The original concept behind the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime provision was more about ensuring a time away from the office because it’s a penalty, in essence, on the employer for working someone too much,” she says. “We have come to see working overtime almost as a benefit, though.

According to Fredrickson, the Depression-era law was written during a time of high unemployment to distribute work more broadly and discourage employers from working people more than 40 hours a week. But so many workers aren’t protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act anymore, and it’s gotten easier for many employers to skirt regulations, sending us a long way from the act’s original goals. “It’s also because as a society, we seem to think that working extraordinarily long hours is somehow a good thing,” she says.