On Monday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the White House Summit on Working Families, to engage the country in a "conversation on working families for a 21st Century workplace." In his remarks leading up to the event, and at the summit, the President outlined four issues that are a priority for working families: workplace flexibility, access to affordable child care, minimum and equal wages, and paid maternity leave.
To that end, the President is issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Labor to begin expanding flexible workplace policies for federal employees, supporting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, changing the definition of spouse in the Family and Medical Leave Act to accommodate same sex married couples, as well as increasing access to affordable child care. Though starting with federal employees is a great way to start, there's nothing to stop your company from leading by example. As lawyers in the legal department, you're in a unique position to help steer the company to help make the workplace more efficient, as well as a happier place for your company's employees.
Here are some ways how your company can help #FamiliesSucceed.
1. Access to Child Care
There are several ways that your company could provide access to affordable child care. For starters, your company could offer child care on-site. And why not? Studies show that companies that offer their employees lifestyle perks outperform the Dow 8 to 1. If that's a step (or liability) your company is unwilling to take on, your company could subsidize child care, provide back up child care, or provide a day care cam so parents can check up on their little ones.
2. Flexible Schedules
Flexible scheduling is something that all employees of the company -- from the C Suite to the retail floor -- could benefit from. There will be scheduling issues that arise for different types of employees, but your company can go a long way in improving employee morale, efficiency and happiness by just giving employees a little leeway. Make it about if they get work done, instead of when they get work done.
3. Paid Maternity Leave
Just like free lunch, napping pods, or on-site dry cleaning, your company can choose -- without the requirements of laws -- to provide paid maternity leave. Think of it as an investment in your employees and savings in hiring and training.
4. Gender Pay Equity & Minimum Wage
With regard to employees on the ground level, set the tone by paying a liveable wage -- regardless of legal minimums are. If your company's employees are worried about how to pay the rent they can't focus on their work. In the same regard, your company should create policies to ensure that there is gender pay equity -- your company should seek to pay men and women the same for the same work done. And, your company's efforts won't only be felt within the company; reports have shown that in-house counsel can affect gender pay equity at BigLaw as well.
While your company doesn't have to act on some of these matters unless Congress decides to act first, studies continue to show that companies with happy, productive employees are more profitable. Why wait for Congress to act when your company can start implementing policies now to increase efficiency?
What kinds of policies is your company implementing to help #FamiliesSucceed? Share your ideas on Facebook on the FindLaw for Legal Professionals page.
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