WASHINGTON — Can you find work-family balance on Capitol Hill, a place where some overworked staffers tote their Blackberries to the shower?
Yes, says Working Mother magazine, which named four lawmakers from Washington state as among the most family-friendly bosses in Congress.
Among the 30 winners of the third “Best of Congress Award” given out Wednesday are Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Adam Smith of Tacoma, Dave Reichert of Auburn and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane. Reichert has won the biennial award every time since it began in 2008; Murray and McMorris Rodgers are repeat winners from 2010.
The award recognizes both lawmakers’ legislative work and their records as employers. Each member of Congress sets his or her own office rules and benefits, such as flex time and telecommuting. The award is given by Corporate Voices for Working Families, a business group, and Working Mother Media.
Full-time staffers for Smith, for instance, earn one paid sick day per month from first day on the job and can get three days off annually for the death of an immediate family member. In his award application, Smith also cited his votes to protect food-stamp benefits for the poor and legislation to beef up pay parity for woman, among others.
McMorris Rodgers, who gave birth to both of her young children while in Congress, allows new mothers to take up to 12 weeks leave, with a mixture of both paid and unpaid time off. She encourages staffers to occasionally bring children to work, and her office regularly marks weddings, births and other occasions.
“It’s really more of a family-first culture,” said her spokesman, Todd Winer.
In all, eight members from the Senate and 22 from the House were honored this year.