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When compared to other developed nations, the United States fares poorly with regard to benefits for workers. While the situation is grim for most U.S. workers, it is worse for low-wage workers. Data show a significant benefits gap between low-wage and high-wage in terms of flexible work arrangements (FWAs), paid leave, pensions, and employer-sponsored health-care insurance, among other things. This gap exists notwithstanding the fact that FWAs and employment benefits produce positive returns for employees, employers, and society in general. Despite these returns, this Article contends that employers will be loath to extend FWAs and greater employment benefits to low-wage workers due to (1) concerns about costs, (2) a surplus of low-wage workers in the labor market, (3) negative perceptions of the skill of low-wage workers and the value of low-wage work, (4) other class-based stereotypes and biases, and (5) structural impediments in some low-wage jobs. Given the decline of unions and limited legislative action to date, the Article maintains that low-wage workers are in a “different class of care” with little hope for meaningful change on the horizon.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Wages, Income distribution, Employee fringe benefits, Cost effectiveness, Quality of life, Discrimination