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Oct 13 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) invites comments to OMB by November 13, 2023 concerning the proposed reinstatement of the “ATUS Leave and Job Flexibilities Module.”
 
The Leave and Job Flexibilities Module includes questions about workers' access to and use of paid and unpaid leave, job flexibility, and their work schedules. Information collected in the supplement will be published as a public use data set to facilitate research on numerous topics, such as: the characteristics of people with paid and unpaid leave; occupations with the greatest and least access to paid leave; reasons workers are able to take leave from their jobs; how many workers have access to job flexibilities such as the ability to work from home or adjust their start and stop times; and the relationship between workers' time use and their access to job flexibilities. Sponsored by the Department of Labor's Women's Bureau, the supplement is asked of eligible respondents immediately upon their completion of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). The Leave and Job Flexibilities Module supports the BLS mission by providing relevant information on economic and social issues and providing a richer description of work. The module surveys eligible wage and salary workers aged 15 and up from a nationally representative sample of households each month.
 
The purpose of this request is for BLS to obtain clearance for a reinstatement of the Leave and Job Flexibilities Module to the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), scheduled to be conducted for one year, starting in January 2024. The proposed questions appear in Attachment A. As part of the ATUS, the module will survey employed wage and salary workers who are ages 15 and over, except those who are self-employed. If approved, the Leave and Job Flexibilities Module questions will be asked immediately after the ATUS and will follow up on some of the information ATUS respondents provide in their time diary. The time diary is a section of the ATUS interview in which respondents report the activities they did over a 24-hour period that mainly encompasses "yesterday," or the day before the interview.

The proposed Leave and Job Flexibilities Module will collect data about workers’ access to and use of paid and unpaid leave, job flexibility, and their work schedules. The collection of the module in 2024 is another effort to gather data on workers’ access to paid and unpaid leave. A Leave Module similar to the one being proposed was attached to the ATUS in 2011 (OMB Number 1220-0175) and in 2017-18 (OMB Number 1220-0191). The 2024 ATUS Leave and Job Flexibilities Module will accomplish similar objectives as the 2011 and 2017-18 modules. Although many questions remain the same, some have been dropped, and some have been added to obtain better information about the availability and use of flexible and alternative work schedules. As in 2011, data will be collected on employees’ access to paid and unpaid leave and their leave activities (e.g., instances of leave taking, leave denials, and non-use of leave). Like the 2017-18 Leave Module, the proposed 2024 module will also collect data on job flexibilities and work schedules.

BLS is currently proposing to collect the 2024 module for one year.  The Women’s Bureau has expressed interest in collecting the module again in 2025 or 2026, though a second year of collection is uncertain at this time. Two years of module data would allow a greater sample size for more detailed analyses (much like the 2017-18 Leave Module allowed). Therefore, BLS is requesting clearance for three years. If BLS and the Women’s Bureau decide to collect the module beyond 2024, BLS will submit a nonsubstantive change request to update the package.

The ATUS is the Nation's first federally administered, continuous survey about time use in the United States. The survey is sponsored by BLS and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. In the ATUS, a nationally representative sample of persons from households completing their final month of interviews for the Current Population Survey (CPS) is drawn for the ATUS. From each household, one person age 15 or older is selected for a one-time ATUS interview. The primary focus of the interview is on collecting the time diary, although additional questions are asked about the respondent's household composition and work during the prior week.

Time-use data are considered important indicators of both quality of life and the contribution of non-market work to national economies. They measure, for example, time spent caring for children, volunteering, working, sleeping, and doing leisure and other activities.

Fielding the Leave and Job Flexibilities Module in 2024 will allow researchers to monitor changes in Americans’ time-use patterns along with changes in Americans’ access to paid leave and changes to workers’ job flexibilities and work schedules. A 2024 Leave Module to the ATUS will offer researchers the chance to examine how alternative work schedules affect time spent in nonmarket activities such as housework, childcare, and volunteer activities and how the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected these activities.

Asking the job flexibilities questions as a part of a 2024 module to the ATUS would facilitate clear comparisons to the pre-pandemic 2017-18 Leave Module data about workers’ ability to work at home, adjust their work hours, and about their work schedules. These comparisons would be useful in understanding the effects of the pandemic on workers, including any changes in who has access to job flexibilities and in how, when, and where work is performed. The module data have been used extensively by researchers as a baseline for understanding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers, e.g., to identify the characteristics of workers who can and cannot work at home.

ATUS Leave Module https://www.bls.gov/tus/modules/lvdatafiles.htm
BLS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202306-1220-001 Click on IC List for questionnaire, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-22497
 
For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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