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President Obama: Family-Friendly Work Policies Are Basic Needs

President Barack Obama is asking more companies around the nation to implement policies that encourage greater work-life balance.

In an editorial published today on the Huffington Post, President Barack Obama made the case for more companies to offer employees family-friendly workplace policies.

"Family leave, childcare, flexibility and a decent wage aren't frills. They're basic needs," President Obama wrote.

The letter is pegged to an event in Washington today, called the White House Summit on Working Families. The meeting will bring together business leaders and workers to discuss the biggest challenges for both groups when it comes to this issue.

President Obama also said that he'll sign a Presidential Memorandum today, which will direct every agency in the federal government to offer more employees flexible work schedules.  

In his post, he listed a few examples of family-friendly reforms made by well-known companies that have seemingly been successful. For instance, Google increased its paid parental leave to five months. As a result, the rate of women leaving the company decreased by half, President Obama said. Additionally, Cisco estimates that its work from home policy, which allows workers to telecommute as needed, saves the company more than $275 million annually. 

President Obama called on other companies around the nation to follow suit by implementing similar workplace policies. He highlighted three main benefits that many American employees lack. Here's what President Obama had to say about each.  

On flexibility:  

The ability to take a few hours off for a school play or to work from home when your kid is sick. Most workers want it, but not enough of them have it--even though studies show that flexibility makes workers happier and helps companies lower turnover and raise productivity.

On paid family leave:

Many jobs don't offer adequate leave to care for a new baby or an ailing parent, so workers can't afford to be there when their families need them the most. And the United States is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave.

On childcare:

Most working families I know can't afford thousands a year for childcare, but often, that's what it costs. I recently got a letter from a woman in Minnesota whose kids' preschool is so expensive it costs more every month than her mortgage.


Last updated: Jun 23, 2014

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.

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