The Obama Administration is doing its part to improve the workplace for all working middle class families.

On July 20, Vice President Joe Biden held a meeting of the Middle Class Task Force that focused on finding solutions and making recommendations on equal pay for men and women. The meeting also addressed the desire to improve workplace flexibility to help families balance the demands of work and home.

“Women make up nearly half of all workers on U.S. payrolls, and two-thirds of families with children are headed either by two working parents or by a single parent who works,” Biden, who is also chair of the Middle Class Task Force, said. “Yet the workplace has, for the most part, not changed to reflect these realities – and it must. Closing the gender pay gap, helping parents keep their jobs while balancing family responsibilities, and increasing workplace flexibility – these are not only women’s issues, they are issues of middle class economic security.”

The Middle Class Task Force initiative, established in January 2009, is targeted at raising the standards of working, middle-class families in America. By expediting administrative reforms and developing legislative and policy proposals with working families in mind, the Middle Class Task Force is responsible for bringing attention to key issues facing middle class families.

In addressing the issue of equal pay enforcement, the Task Force recommended improving interagency coordination and enforcement efforts to maximize effectiveness of existing authorities; collecting data on the private workforce to better understand the scope of the pay gap and target enforcement efforts; undertaking a public education campaign to inform employers of their obligations and employees of their rights; improving the federal government’s role as a model employer; and working with Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, an enhancement of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that would allow women the same recourse in cases of sex-based pay discrimination as an individual subjected to race or national origin discrimination.

The Task Force also discussed its ongoing commitment to improving work-family balance for Americans by announcing the launch of a Work-Flex Event Starter Kit. Businesses, universities, employees and even elected officials were encouraged to use the Starter Kit to learn about innovative workplace flexibility policies. Based on material from the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on March 31, 2010, the Starter Kit aims to raise awareness about the benefits of workplace flexibility; educate key stakeholders; and encourage workplace policy changes.

 

Kyle Taylor

Special to the AFRO