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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Making it Work: Advancing Workplace Policies for Today's Families Reception
National Partnership for Women and Families
Monday, April 26, 2010
Washington, D.C.

Good evening!

It's a pleasure to be here with so many great women.

Maria it is always wonderful to see you — thank you again for joining me in Houston for our OSHA Summit on Latino worker Health and Safety

I want to thank Debra Ness and the National Partnership for Woman and Families and Ellen Bravo and her staff at Family Values at Work for all the work they do on behalf of women and families across the country.

Please give them a big round of applause.

I also want to thank all the working women who are here today — thank you for coming to Washington D.C. and for everything you do back home.

I know that you're all very busy, and I'm grateful that you continue to raise issues of workplace flexibility and paid leave.

We in the Administration know that issues of paid leave and workplace flexibility are not just women's issues — they're family issues.

They affect mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons.

Many of you have been working closely with my Labor Department team on Work-Family policies.

I know that my Assistant Secretary for Policy, Bill Spriggs, spoke to you earlier today, and I am proud that he is part of the DOL team.

Many of you are familiar with my fantastic staff — Sara Manzano-Diaz of the Women's Bureau and Patricia Shiu of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs are just a few of the great leaders we have in place.

This Administration cares deeply about issues facing modern working families.

Recently, the White House hosted a day-long Forum on Flexibility, and the President and the First Lady both emphasized the necessity of workplace flexibility.
I know that some of you were there, and I was impressed by what I heard.

Many of you discussed issues that directly impact workers and their families every day.

And as Secretary of Labor, my vision for the Department of Labor is "Good Jobs for Everyone."

  • A good job supports a family by increasing incomes, ensuring fair compensation, narrowing the wage gap and allowing for work-life flexibility;
  • A good job ensures workplaces are safe and healthy, and it gives workers a voice;
  • A good job means not having to choose between doing work you can be proud of and taking care of your loved ones
  • A good job will help restore the middle class.

We are working hard to ensure that women and people of color have access to these good jobs and have an opportunity to advance in their careers.

Women still hold a majority of low-wage jobs and a minority of positions at the top.

And the pay gap still exists despite the fact that more women are in our workplaces than ever before.

The pay gap is 80 cents for White Women, 68 cents for African American women, and 57 cents for Latinas for every dollar earned compared to white men.

But this is something that we care very much about — the President established a National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, and the Labor Department is working closely with other federal agencies to enforce equal pay laws.

Equal Pay Day was last week, and I know many of you were at the White House briefing my staff and others about new data about Pay Equity — thank you for your good work in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act

However, this is only one of many workplace policies that we need to improve.

Millions of families must balance caring for a child or parent while meeting their work responsibilities.

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows workers to take job-protected time off unpaid, but there are real gaps — and millions of families cannot afford to use unpaid leave.

Nearly half of all private sector workers do not have access to paid sick leave

Access to paid leave varies tremendously by income — only 17% of the lowest paid workers have access to paid leave.

At the Labor Department we are working to:

  • Improve enforcement of the FMLA
  • Update the FMLA regulations; and
  • To gather new data about work-family policies — the 2011 budget will allow the Department of Labor to complete a much-needed new survey — we need good data to make good policy

A handful of States, like California, have enacted policies to offer paid family leave, but more states should have the chance.

I'm proud to say that my budget establishes a $50 million State Paid Leave Fund that will provide competitive grants to help advance paid leave programs in states.

We are working closely with the White House and are doing a lot of research to see how we can best help states with paid leave programs.

I am also proud that the Department was at the forefront of announcing the Administration's support for the Healthy Families Act.

This act would provide up to 7 days of paid sick leave each year, and it would go a long way in helping millions of families meet their care giving needs.

For too long, we as a society have viewed work-life policies as a special benefit rather than an essential part of the workplace.

We are working to come up with solutions that work for both employers and employees.

And I am glad to see that you have employers here with you making the business case for good work-family policies

As I said earlier, providing workplace flexibility for family and personal care giving is a key component of my vision of "Good Jobs for Everyone."

Because we can all agree that work is more than just about a paycheck.

Work is about is dignity and respect.

And it is about providing for your family.

Thank you for being such great advocates for families across America.

You know you have a lot of friends at the Department of Labor and I look forward to working with you.