Obama says US should have paid maternity leave

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 23, 2014 at 7:53 pm •  Published: June 23, 2014

"There is only one developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave, and that is us," Obama said. "And that is not the list you want to be on — on your lonesome. It's time to change that."

He also directed federal agencies to expand flexible work arrangements where possible, and Obama chief of staff Dennis McDonough said in a staff memo that includes the White House — a hard-charging environment where long hours are the norm. "I know how hard each of you works to support the president and the nation. Please know that we'll be looking for ways to better support you as well," McDonough wrote.

Obama took four working parents out to lunch at Chipotle before his speech and after met with business leaders with family-friendly policies. He urged Congress to pass legislation requiring employers to accommodate pregnant employees so they can continue to perform their jobs.

The summit included a surprise appearance by a celebrity to echo Obama's criticism of "Mad Men" policies in today's workplace. Christina Hendricks, who plays single mom Joan on the AMC dramatization of a 1960s ad firm, said, "In the 21st century the only place for a story like Joan's should be on TV."

Mrs. Obama closed the summit by encouraging young women not to short-change themselves in career negotiations. And she said she hopes to see a woman in the country's top job as president soon.

"That should happen as soon as possible," she said. "We have some options, don't we?"

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Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.

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