DOL Co-Hosts Working Families Summit

Participants in the first White House Summit on Working Families, which took place June 23 in Washington, D.C., discussed pay and paid leave issues, flexible work schedules, caregiving, and the types of work and workplace policies millennials expect.

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez was in select company June 23, joining President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and numerous CEOs and economists at the first White House Summit on Working Families, which took place at Washington, D.C.'s Omni Hotel. The day-long event featured panel discussions, breakout sessions, and speeches about issues that included pay and paid leave, family leave, flexible work schedules, caregiving, and the types of work and workplace policies millennials expect.

The Department of Labor co-hosted the event.

An op-ed by the president was featured on The Huffington Post and the White House website. He wrote, in part:

"Family leave, childcare, flexibility and a decent wage aren't frills. They're basic needs. They shouldn't be bonuses -- they should be the bottom line.

"Parents who work full-time should earn enough to pay the bills and go to work every day knowing that their kids are in good hands. Workers who give their all should know that if they need some flexibility, they can have it -- because their employers understand that it's hard to be productive when you've got a sick kid at home or a childcare crisis. And talented, hard-working people should be able to say yes to a great new opportunity without worrying that their families will pay the price. Nearly half of all working parents surveyed say they've chosen to turn down a job not because they didn't want it, but because it would be too hard on their families. When that many members of our workforce are forced to choose between a job and their family, something's wrong.

"Some businesses are realizing that family-friendly policies are a good business practice, because they help build loyalty and inspire workers to go the extra mile. JetBlue offers a flexible work-from-home plan for its customer-service representatives. Google increased its paid parental leave to five months -- and the rate of women leaving the company decreased by half. Cisco lets their employees telecommute as needed, which they estimate saves them over $275 million every year.

"And there's a bigger economic case here, too. The strength of our economy rests on whether we're getting the most out of all of our nation's talent -- whether we're making it possible for all our citizens to contribute to our growth and prosperity. That's the key to staying competitive in the global economy. Right now, we're leaving too many people on the sidelines who have the desire and the capacity to work, but are held back by one obstacle or another. It's our job to remove those obstacles. That's what supporting working families is all about.

"States are getting on board, too. California, Rhode Island and New Jersey give workers paid family leave. Connecticut offers paid sick days. So does New York City. Since I asked Congress to raise the minimum wage last year, 13 states have taken steps to raise it on their own. But all Americans should get to benefit from these policies. That's why we need to see some action here in Washington."

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