Obama takes no-frills approach to workplace flexibility

Greg Nash

President Obama used his weekly address Saturday to push for workplace reforms ahead of a White House summit next week.

“We’re bringing together business leaders and workers to talk about the challenges that working parents face every day, and how we can address them together,” he said.

Many of the workplace policies in the U.S. are outdated because they don’t give parents the flexibility to manage their personal and professional lives, he noted, “It’s time to change that.”

“A few states have acted on their own to give workers paid family leave, but this should be available to everyone, because all Americans should be able to afford to care for a family member in need.” 

Obama pointed to a new study that found half of parents have turned down a job at some point due to unflexibile working schedules.

“When that many talented, hard-working people are forced to choose between work and family, something’s wrong,” he continued. “Other countries are making it easier for people to have both. We should too, if we want American businesses to compete and win in the global economy.” 

The issue of workplace reform turned personal for the president, who recalled seeing his mother, grandmother and wife struggle to raise children while trying to manage their jobs.

“Family leave. Childcare. Flexibility. These aren’t frills – they’re basic needs,” he said. “They shouldn’t be bonuses – they should be the bottom line.”

In his latest budget, Obama has asked to expand the child and dependent care tax credit to help families pay for child care.

The White House says the move would benefit nearly 1.7 million families, and those who are eligible would get about $600 a year in tax cuts.

Obama plans to hold a summit on working families on Monday.