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President and First Lady Host White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility

Small Business Owners, Workers, Business and Labor Leaders, and Experts Join Administration Officials to Discuss Workplace Practices for a Changing American Workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and the White House Council on Women and Girls are hosting the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility to discuss the importance of creating workplace practices that allow America’s working men and women to meet the demands of their jobs without sacrificing the needs of their families.

Small business owners, business leaders, policy experts, workers and labor leaders are joining with senior administration officials today to share their ideas and strategies for making the workplace more flexible for American workers and families. The opening and closing sessions, as well as five breakout sessions focused on best practices and benefits for the American workplace and workforce, are streaming live on www.WhiteHouse.gov/live. In addition, much of the event is streaming on Facebook and Ustream, and the White House will include comments taken through these social networks in the feedback collected through the forum.

In conjunction with the forum, the President’s Council of Economic Advisers is releasing a report presenting an economic perspective on flexible workplace policies and practices.  The report documents some of the changes in the U.S. workforce which have increased the need for flexibility in the workplace, including the increased number of women entering the labor force, the prevalence of families where all adults work, increasing eldercare responsibilities, and the rising importance of continuing education. It then examines the current state of flexible work arrangements and discusses the economic benefits of workplace flexibility - such as reduced absenteeism, lower turnover, improved health of workers, and increased productivity.  The analysis is available online here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/files/documents/100331-cea-economics-workplace-flexibility.pdf.

"Workplace flexibility isn’t just a women’s issue.  It’s an issue that affects the well-being of our families and the success of our businesses," said President Obama.  "It affects the strength of our economy – whether we’ll create the workplaces and jobs of the future that we need to compete in today’s global economy." 

“Flexible policies actually make employees more – not less – productive,” said Mrs. Obama. “Instead of spending time worrying about what’s happening at home, employees have the support and the peace of mind they need to concentrate at work which is good for their families – and the bottom line.”
The Office of Personnel Management is also announcing a pilot program to incorporate flexibility in the government to provide better, more efficient service for the American people – even in the face of snow storms and other emergencies. The pilot program will build on the cost savings telework provided during last winter's snow storms and expand opportunities for federal employees, here in Washington and across America, to telework on a regular basis.

"Employers, including the federal government, will have to implement flexible work policies if they want to attract the best and the brightest," said Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. " The President is committed to making sure that the federal government can compete for talent because he knows that good people produce better work, which in turn, leads to better service for the American people."
Shortly after taking office, the President signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is delivering relief to working families across the country, including tax credits and child care assistance for working families.

The President’s Budget for FY2011 builds on those  initiatives with a series of investments to support caregivers for elderly relatives or family members with disabilities, to help families afford the cost of quality child care, to aid states wishing to establish paid leave funds, and to build the knowledge base about work-family policies.

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