Employment and Jobs

Portable Benefits in Action: A Roadmap for a Renewed Work-Related Safety Net

December 14, 2021  • Alexandra Gervis, Shelly Steward, Mohona Siddique & Camryn Banks

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Millions of people in the U.S. work without access to basic benefits, like health insurance, retirement savings, and paid time off. Most benefits today are attached to a single job—and most too often only to full-time, long-term employment. Portable, universal benefits that are attached to workers rather than to specific jobs offer a promising solution to this benefits access crisis. Portable benefits are not connected to one specific job; a worker remains covered without interruption while working multiple jobs or when moving from one job to another. Universal benefits are accessible by everyone who works, regardless of work arrangement or sector. A universal, portable safety net could better deliver benefits to individual workers, encourage a dynamic labor market, and promote economic security for all. This report:

  • Explains how universal, portable benefits can contribute to a more accessible, equitable safety net and more dynamic economy.
  • Summarizes the current conversation around portable benefits, and
  • Offers actionable steps toward more portable, universal benefits.

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Report: “#PortableBenefits in Action: A Roadmap for a Renewed Work-Related Safety Net” by @lexigervis, @shellysteward, @banks_camryn, and @missmks88 at @AspenFutureWork.

Millions of workers lack access to benefits like health insurance, retirement savings, and paid leave. A universal, portable safety net could better deliver benefits to individuals, encourage a dynamic labor market, and promote economic security for all.

Most benefits today are attached to a single job—and too often only to full-time, long-term employment. Portable, universal benefits that are attached to workers rather than to specific jobs can solve this benefits access crisis.

This report explains how universal #portablebenefits can contribute to a more accessible, equitable safety net and more dynamic economy. Read more from @lexigervis, @shellysteward, @banks_camryn, and @missmks88 at @AspenFutureWork.


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The Future of Work Initiative aims to identify, develop, and amplify solutions that address the challenges of today while building toward a future in which workers are safe, empowered, and equipped to thrive in our changing world. The Future of Work Initiative is an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program.

The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.