The Reality Of ‘Family-Friendly’ Work Policies

A presidential push for “family-friendly” work. Flex time. Maternity leave. More. We’ll look at flexibility in today’s American workplace.

President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Summit on Working Families Monday, June 23, 2014, in Washington. (AP)

President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Summit on Working Families Monday, June 23, 2014, in Washington. (AP)

Look at any chart of family-friendly workplace policies in developed countries and the United States looks stunningly out of step. Guaranteed paid maternity leave? Fourteen weeks in Germany. 35 in Norway. 52 in Britain. The US? Zero. Wages paid during maternity leave by law? One hundred percent in New Zealand. In Portugal. In Austria. In Spain. And the US? Again, zero. Then there’s flextime, childcare and all the rest. The White House is now campaigning on the theme. This hour On Point: work, family, and the USA.

– Tom Ashbrook


Edward-Isaac Dovere, Senior White House reporter for POLITICO.

Danika Davis, CEO of the Northern California Human Resources Association.

Lotte Bailyn, Professor of Management, Emerita at the MIT Sloan School of Management. She studies the relationship between managerial practice and employees’ lives and the dynamics of gender and diversity in business organizations and academia.

Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute, she co-directs their National Study of the Changing Workforce and National Study of Employers. She also co-directs the program, “When Work Works,” a project on workplace flexibility and effectiveness. (@EllenGalinsky)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal (Subscription): Obama Calls for Family-Friendly Workplace Policies – President Barack Obama on Monday called for paid parental leave and other family-friendly policies, part of a broader effort to win more flexibility for workers.

Harvard Business Review: Flextime Is Declining, But “Flex Around the Edges” Is Up – Earlier this year, San Francisco and Vermont passed legislation that allows workers to ask for flexible work schedules without fear of reprisal. Are such “right to request” laws indicators of a rise in flextime? Or do they reflect a fear that flextime programs are being eliminated?

Business Week: Obama Targets ‘Waitress Moms’ Votes With Families Summit – These problems “cannot just be fixed by working harder or being an even better parent,” the president said. “All too often they are the result of outdated policies and old ways of thinking.”

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