In his most expansive statement yet in support of paid leave policies, President Barack Obama declared that women deserve “workplace policies that protect her right to have a baby without losing her job, [and] to take a day off to care for a sick child or a parent without running into hardship.”
The President spoke to students at Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida. He called on Congress to bring this country into line with “every other advanced nation on Earth by offering paid leave to folks who work hard every day.” And he laid out the clear choice for members of Congress, saying they “will have to choose between helping women and families get ahead or holding them back.”
A hallmark of the President’s speech was the link between what women need and what the economy needs. “We’ve got to make sure that every woman has the opportunities that she deserves — because when women succeed, America succeeds,” he said.
Referring to the best practices of successful companies, President Obama said, “It turns out that if you give your workers some flexibility so that if they’ve got a sick child or a sick parent they can have a little time off, those employees are more productive, the companies do better, you have less turnover. So it’s good business practice. It’s the right thing to do.”
In addition to paid sick days and paid family leave, the President described a number of other policies that Congress should pass, including the Paycheck Fairness Act and a raise in the minimum wage “at a time when women hold a majority of low-wage jobs.” Doing so will create customers with more money in their pockets – and that, said the President, will “grow the economy for everyone.”
Family Values @ Work member coalitions are helping plan the series of regional roundtable discussions the President mentioned to hear people’s stories around the country. Those events will culminate in what he described as the “first ever” White House Summit on Working Families June 23.
We look forward to bringing forward the stories of those working hard to win paid sick days and paid family leave policies, and to partnering with elected officials to bring us out of the “Mad Men era” and into the twenty-first century.