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Presidential Memo Proposes More Support for Work-Life Balance
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
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memo issued by President Obama on June 23, 2014, says agencies need to do a better job offering employees flexible schedules, telework, and better access to programs promoting work-life balance. The memo states: “To attract, empower, and retain a talented and productive workforce in the 21st century, the federal government must continue to make progress in enabling employees to balance their responsibilities at work and at home.”

President Obama calls for several actions within the memo. For example, “agencies shall make federal employees aware, on a periodic basis, that they have the right to request work schedule flexibilities available to them under law.”

Agency heads shall ensure that the workplace flexibilities—such as telework, part-time employment, job sharing, and leave programs—are available to the maximum extent practicable, in accordance with the laws and regulations governing these programs and consistent with mission needs. And the memo states that managers need to make clear to federal employees that they can, in fact, request such work schedule flexibilities.

Federal managers must consider the request and supporting information carefully and respond within 20 business days of the initial request. More important, agencies shall review, and if necessary amend or establish, procedures within 120 days of the date of the memorandum.

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Meanwhile, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management  (OPM) shall issue guidance to Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) regarding the requirements set forth in the memo within 60 days, and shall assist agencies with implementation of this section.

The OPM Director also shall work with agencies “to provide appropriate education and guidance to all agency employees, including managers and supervisors, on the use of workplace flexibilities and work-life programs as strategic tools to assist with the recruitment and retention of employees, with an emphasis on furthering positive outcomes for employees and the agency that result from optimizing their use.” 

To do so, the memo calls for agencies “to develop training programs that educate employees, managers, and supervisors about the resources that are available to meet work-life needs.” Likewise, CHCOs must support agencies “in promoting workplace cultures in which workplace flexibilities and work-life programs are a standard part of operating procedures, and identify any arbitrary, unnecessary, or cultural barriers limiting use.”

To learn more, read the full memo.  

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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