On Monday, Mad Men star Christina Hendricks spoke at the White House Summit on Working Families where she shared her views on current policies for women in the workplace.
According to reports, the United States is the only developed nation that does not require paid leave for new mothers. “Only three countries in the world report that they don’t offer paid maternity leave – three – and the United States is one of them,” Obama said.
Hendricks plays a single mom named Joan in the 1960’s drama Mad Men.
In her brief speech, she said “When President Obama discusses the issues facing working families, equal pay for women, affordable child care, to name a few, he often says that current policies seem to be from the Mad Men era.”
She also said that in this century, “the only place for a story like Joan’s should be on TV.”
Vice President Joe Biden opened the summit by discussing the importance of family time. “Not all of us have the kind of flexibility that I have,” he said.
On Sunday, Obama’s adviser Valerie Jarrett said that the President is attempting to start a national conversation in order to explore the issue. Jarrett, however, acknowledged that cost is an issue for any federal program, but said that the Obama administration wants to give middle-class families paid leave without raising taxes. “But we also know what a good investment in our workforce it would be if they had paid leave, and that investment will pay great returns,” she said.
Based on the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act, employers are only required to provide unpaid leave to employees who have family or medical emergencies.
Obama advised Congress to pass legislation that would require employers to facilitate pregnant employees while they work. He also called for federal agencies to make their work arrangements more flexible.
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