individual women of various ages, races A number of the recommendations in IWF's first report in2016—including tax cuts for workers—have been implemented, but moreneeds to be done, the group asserts.

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Well-meaning but misguided government mandates aimed to helpworking women can easily backfire and have unintended negativeconsequences.

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So asserts the Independent Women's Forum, which outlines anumber of policy changes its members believe would be moreeffective in the group's second edition of "Workingfor Women – A Modern Agenda for Improving Women's Lives." Anumber of the recommendations in IWF's first report in2016—including tax cuts for workers—have been implemented, butmore needs to be done, the group asserts.

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Indeed, while last year marked the first time women comprised the majority of thecollege-educated workforce in the United States, many working womenstill face challenges that should be addressed by smart policydecisions, according to the report.

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Related: Still plenty of ground to cover for women, minorityequality in workplaces

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"Unfortunately, politicians often imply that bad bosses or anoverwhelmingly sexist society are the cause of women's obstacles,and argue that top-down government policies are necessary toprotect women," the authors write. "Yet there is not aone-size-fits-all solution to the challenges women face, and thesewell-intentioned government efforts may help some, but they willbackfire for many more by making our workplaces less flexible anddiscouraging job creation."

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Some of the group's 20-plus policy recommendations for eitherfederal or state lawmakers include:

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Making the 2017 federal tax cuts permanent forworkers: "These tax cuts reward those who work while alsomaking it easier for more families to make ends meet on one salary.However, these tax benefits are set to expire in 2025. Policymakersshould make tax cuts permanent for workers and families as they didfor businesses."

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Rejecting proposals to reclassify gig workers andindependent contractors as employees, like the recentlyenacted California law: "This would backfire for gig workers byeliminating flexibility and opportunities for work. Companies thatcurrently allow workers to offer services on their own schedulemight institute shifts and control scheduling. They might restrictwho can sell goods on their platforms, as well as imposingadditional fees that would drive away customers."

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Reforming licensing regimes: "States shouldevaluate existing licensing and fee practices and eliminate allthat fail to advance legitimate public safety or quality concerns.For military spouses, states should consider ways to expeditelicenses or transfer the licenses of those who are in goodstanding. They should also consider ending blanket exclusions ofindividuals with criminal records, and instead exclude only thoseindividuals whose convictions are recent and relevant and pose alegitimate threat to public safety."

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Allowing employees to agree to an 80/14schedule: "The Fair Labor Standard Act should be amendedto allow employees to voluntarily choose a flexible schedule inexchange for being paid overtime after 80 hours of work over 14days, rather than the traditional overtime after 40 hours in sevendays."

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Allowing people to save on their own for leavetime: "People ought to be able to save tax-free so thatthey can accrue resources that will sustain them during suchabsences from work, either through personal care accounts orthrough reforms to health savings accounts."

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Allowing employees with a new child access to a share oftheir future Social Security benefits, in exchange fordelaying their eligibility for Social Security retirement benefits:"This program would be entirely voluntary: No worker would have totake earned leave benefits, and there would be no new taxes imposedto pay for this program. This would simply shift the timing of whenworkers would receive benefits that they have already accrued."

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Front-loading child tax credits: "Senators BillCassidy (R-LA) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) have offered a newbipartisan proposal that would offer new parents the option to takean advance on the child tax credit to allow them to take paid timeoff to welcome a new child. The tax credit received in the year ofa child's birth or adoption would then be effectively paid back byreduced eligibility for future child tax credits. This bipartisanproposal for a voluntary option to give taxpayers more flexibilitywith the timing of their tax credits deserves additionalexploration."

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Other IWF policy recommendations include increasing tax creditsfor children; reforming Social Security to make it sustainable; andexpanding 529 plans to help parents broadly to save and prepare forthe costs of child-rearing, even before K-12 education begins –such as paying for child care for working parents.

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"There is much at stake, and we want to see every woman and girlto be afforded the greatest degree of opportunity to realize theirpotential and live out their American Dream," the authors write."While we acknowledge that both U.S. culture and U.S. law arealready pro-women and pro-freedom, we believe implementing thepolicy solutions discussed within this report would improve ourlives even more."

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.