At night after the kids are in bed, most working couples have “kitchen table” talks. Who’s going to meet with a teacher, or stay home with a sick child? Who can take mom to the doctor on Friday? Which bills can we pay this week?
Today, the National Partnership was honored to be invited to the table for a discussion led by the First Family, on work-family issues.
First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility on Wednesday with powerful remarks that made it clear that she knows just what it means to be a frazzled working parent. It’s great to know that work-family challenges are something that she and the President have experienced first hand, and that they know we need national solutions.
In fact, she talked about how terrible it is that many people don’t even have a single paid sick day—and that’s why the Administration supports the Healthy Families Act! That’s a key priority for the National Partnership too, and we’re leading a broad-based coalition that’s working for passage.
In these tough economic times, it was also great to hear strong endorsements for greater workplace flexibility from other Administration leaders, including Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. And the Council of Economic Advisers released a report today that makes the economic case for workplace flexibility, including paid leave.
We had the chance to break into discussion groups, made up of advocates, labor and business leaders, researchers and workers. My group had a lively debate. It’s clear that, while we might take different approaches, we all agree that we need to change our country and our workplace culture.
The day was capped by closing remarks from President Obama in which he stressed that workplace flexibility can’t be an optional perk. It needs to be an integral part of our workplace policies. He repeated his commitment to help families facing a daily juggling act, and repeated his support for family friendly policies, including state paid leave programs. And he promised that the federal government will lead by example.
At the National Partnership, we’re thrilled that President Obama and so many high-level leaders in his Administration are focusing on these issues. This is what working families need! But discussion is just the first step.
Working families need action. That means paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, better child and elder care, expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act, and advancing other programs and polices that can make our workplaces more flexible.
So help us advance these and other critical policies. Take action now! Join the First Family in speaking out for the workplace flexibility and work-family policies that America’s families need!