In his memorandum for modernizing Federal leave, the President wrote, “Men and women both need time to care for their families and should have access to workplace flexibilities that help them succeed at work and at home. Offering family leave and other workplace flexibilities to parents can help achieve the goals of recruiting and retaining talent, lowering costly worker turnover, increasing employee engagement, boosting employee morale, and ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce.”
This week, as President Obama continues his conversations with working families across the country, OPM is proud to release a new online handbook that gives Federal employees the information they need to take advantage of the government’s many leave policies related to having a baby, adopting, or becoming foster parents.
Our Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption and Foster Care provides scenarios and tips to give employees realistic and specific examples about how these policies can and should be applied. It was developed with the help of representatives from more than 40 Federal agencies, and it is an important milestone in achieving the President’s vision for Federal working families.
Federal employees will be familiar with many of our leave policies. New mothers and fathers may take at least six to eight weeks of sick leave, followed by additional time to bond with their child through annual leave or the Family Medical Leave Act. The FMLA guarantees that Federal employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a year of the birth or adoption of a child so that new parents can have extra time with their families. I’m also proud that our government recognizes the same needs for adoptive parents, foster families, and same-sex couples.
Our handbook also provides information about less well-known options. For example, employees can use FMLA intermittently – say, one day a week for 12 months – rather than using 12 weeks all at once. Some offices are able to offer adjusted work schedules, with flexible start and end times. For families who need some extra time at home, the perfect solution may be to switch to a part-time schedule.
The handbook shares explanations of all of these types of workplace flexibilities, and more. It has definitions and details about each type of leave, and it also has specific examples of how a Federal worker might combine different types of leave in a way that makes the most sense for his or her family. Our goal is to make our policies and regulations are as clear -- and flexible -- as possible for every employee and his or her supervisor.
To attract and retain a talented, engaged, and productive workforce, the Federal Government must ensure that employees are provided every opportunity to use workplace flexibilities that will enable them to thrive both at work and at home. We hope that this handbook will help move us toward our goal of fully supporting and empowering working parents in their roles both as Federal employees and parents.
Rarely do we stay in the same job for our entire careers. A cornerstone of career development is finding new challenges that will give us new skills, new experiences. So it’s inevitable that, at some point, you will have to tell your boss that it’s time for you to move on.
As you prepare to have that conversation, I have one key piece of advice I hope you’ll take to heart – leave your job the way you came in.
Before you leave a job, be sure that it’s what you truly want. Consider whether your reason for moving on is the right one. Whether you are looking for a new professional experience, a move to a new city, or more work-life balance, it’s important that your reason to leave is one you have thought about carefully.
Leaving a job can be a difficult decision and it’s not one that you should make in isolation. It’s a perfect discussion to have with a mentor. She or he can act as a sounding board to discuss the reasons you want to move on and help you make sure you are on the right path.
Once you have carefully considered the reason you want to move on and have consulted with a trusted friend or mentor, it’s time to speak with your employer. Be sure that you are honest and transparent with your manager and that you are prepared to clearly articulate your reasons for leaving. Be as calm and professional in that setting as you were during your first days on the job. Your last impression is just as crucial as your first. Who knows, you could work with that person again someday.
This advice is especially important in the Federal Government because we have the unique opportunity to leave a job without leaving Federal service. Whether you want to move to a new city, focus on a new issue area, use your skills differently, or simply are looking for a promotion in your field, you can pursue that change while remaining a Federal employee and continuing to serve the American people.
No matter the reason, if in the end you move on because you want to grow professionally, you won’t go wrong. Remember, we will all likely change jobs several times in our lifetimes. Take advantage of the opportunities you have. Just remember to give the job you are leaving just as much respect as the job you are entering.
I am excited today to release an insightful report on Women in Federal Service, which draws on OPM’s deep reservoir of data to shine a light on opportunities for women in Federal service. One of my top priorities as Director of OPM is to make sure women have a seat at every decision table. This report not only illustrates our significant progress toward that goal, but also points to what we still need to accomplish.
For me, the first step in any challenge is to take a look at the data. We looked at how women are doing in the Federal workforce from the perspectives of work-life flexibilities, opportunities to move into leadership, and pay equity.
The data revealed some positive and gratifying trend lines. Women are increasingly moving into leadership roles compared to their counterparts a decade ago. Today, they make up 34.4 percent of senior executives in the Federal Government, compared to estimates of 14.6 percent in the private sector. Younger women are doing especially well. Women entering the workforce now are more likely to be on a management track than they were a decade ago. And while we are proud of the progress we’ve made, the data shows a lingering gender gap within our Senior Executive Service. Clearly, we have work to do.
We’ve also made great progress closing the pay gap between women and men, especially in leadership positions. Within the Senior Executive Service, the pay gap is nearly non-existent. As of 2012, women made 99.2 cents on the dollar compared to men. The gap has also closed dramatically among women in the 25-to-34 age bracket, showing that younger women are more likely to be paid similarly to their male counterparts. We’re thrilled to see so much progress.
We also know that work-life flexibilities are crucial for women – and men. They want the ability to manage their personal lives outside of work, whether that means helping to take care of children or older parents. Among women who take advantage of workplace flexibility programs, more than three-quarters are satisfied with those opportunities.
This report is just the start. I’m committed to making sure opportunities for women in government continue to grow. Last month, I unveiled the REDI Roadmap, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion and provides a data-driven strategy for helping agencies reach one of President Obama’s major workforce goals: a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce at every level of government.
We want to make sure that women are fully represented at every level of government to create a stronger Federal service.
One of the President’s highest management priorities is to make sure that all Federal employees have access to effective training. One way that OPM and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council are working together to support this priority is by sponsoring an interactive virtual human resources training conference on April 15 and 16.
The 2015 Virtual HR Training Conference’s theme is REDI for the Future. REDI stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion. To fully implement the new REDI Roadmap, HR professionals must continue to build, develop, and retain a mission-driven workforce. The skills you can learn and the connections you can make at the conference will help you begin to untie hiring knots, form strategic partnerships, and better use data to drive your decisions.
The conference features more than 40 sessions in tracks that break down the essential core competencies HR professionals need. The five topic areas are:
Federal HR specialists deal with challenges that are complex, numerous,
and ever-changing. The Virtual HR Training Conference is a unique
opportunity for the Federal human resources and human capital
communities to come together to identify critical issues and challenges,
to share ideas and best practices, and to offer strategies and
solutions across government.
Everyone benefits from training, regardless of their career stage. Through REDI, we want to ensure that Federal employees continue to be talented, well-trained, and engaged. The skills that you will develop, sharpen, and refine at the 2015 Virtual HR Training Conference are invaluable toward reaching that goal. Here’s how to sign-up.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I want to highlight OPM’s commitment to ensuring that all women -- and men -- are offered the flexibilities they need to be productive, satisfied members of the Federal workforce. OPM encourages agencies to help their employees balance the needs of their lives inside and outside of work.
In January, the President signed a memorandum titled, Modernizing Federal Leave Policies for Childbirth, Adoption, and Foster Care to Recruit and Retain Talent and Improve Productivity. It directs agencies to advance Federal workers up to six weeks paid sick leave to care for a new child or ill family member. In his State of the Union address, the President also called on Congress to enact legislation to provide Federal workers with up to six weeks of paid parental leave.
The President’s memorandum builds on this past June’s White House Summit on Working Families, an event that explored a variety of issues important to working families, including workplace flexibility. OPM is contributing to these efforts by developing a handbook on Leave for Pregnancy, Childbirth, Adoption, and Foster Care. I believe it is important for Federal employees and their managers to fully understand our policies related to family life events. We do not want women to feel that they must choose between their responsibilities to their family and their obligations to their careers.
To develop the handbook, we are partnering with Federal agencies to gather information on existing workplace flexibilities and work-life programs. OPM is asking agency leave experts to identify common questions and misconceptions. This summer, we will analyze the data we receive and send a report to the President. This document will describe best practices, barriers, and limitations in achieving work-life balance. It also will suggest possible solutions to roadblocks that working families encounter.
OPM has long had in place policies that make it easier for women to meet their full career potential. We’ve created flexible work schedules, expanded sick leave to include caring for family members who are ill, developed telework policies, and come closer to eliminating the gender pay gap.
Sensible workplace polices like these are an integral part of OPM’s Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion – or REDI – roadmap. REDI provides agencies with the tools to attract, hire, promote, and retain top talent for the Federal government and build a model workforce now, and the future.
Our work-life policies are continually evolving to make the balance of caring for families and pursuing a career complementary, rather than contradictory. The women who have come before us have set an incredible example of dedicated Federal service. We hope to honor their contributions by doing all that we can to meet the needs of women today.
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