More Flexibility Planned for Federal Workers

     WASHINGTON (CN) - The White House has announced a plan to help federal workers balance their time between work and home.
     President Barack Obama issued the memorandum "Enhancing Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs," directing federal agencies to accommodate flexible schedules for its employees.
     "It is the policy of the Federal Government to promote a culture in which managers and employees understand the workplace flexibilities and work-life programs available to them and how these measures can improve agency productivity and employee engagement," Obama wrote.
     The memo directs agencies to expand their flexibility for their employees' work schedules. Among other things, agencies must inform their employees that they can request flexible work schedules, such as telecommuting, working part-time and job sharing.
     Agencies would be required to consider requests for flexibility within 20 days of the request, and to periodically remind their employees about the flexible policies available to them.
     Nursing mothers who work for federal agencies will also be provided with break times and private places to nurse, and parents can take time off work under the Family Medical Leave Act.
     Agencies are also directed to ensure they have leave policies for "domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking situations" and sick leave for taking care of family members.
     Obama's memo also calls for expanding on-site child care for federal employees, and more support for counseling services.
     Agencies are directed to review their policies on workplace flexibility within 180 days of the memo, which was issued June 23.
     The Office of Personnel Management will provide guidance to the agencies on changing their workplace policies as needed, and within 300 days of the memo, OPM will issue a report about best practices for workplace flexibility.
     The same day Obama issued the memo, the White House and Labor Department hosted a Summit on Working Families to discuss issues such as paid sick leave, affordable child care for workers, and minimum wage.
     "To strengthen the middle class and restore America's basic bargain, ... we must tackle these issues that are on the minds of all working families," Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said at the summit.
     Issues like child care and family leave "are not frills, they are basic needs," Obama said at the meeting.