How Would Joe Biden’s Memo Play In Your Management Team?

Today is Joe Biden’s last full day as Vice President.  Whilst most of the internet will be mourning the loss of some great meme worthy photos, others will be reflecting on what his contribution to American life has been over the last 44 years.  For many employees and mangers the recent publication of his November 2014 memo to staff will be the action they’ll be thinking of.


Here’s the text of what Joe Biden Said in that memo:

To my wonderful staff,

I would like to take a moment and make something clear to everyone.  I do not expect nor do I want any of you to miss or sacrifice important family obligations for work.  Family obligations include but are not limited to family birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, any religious ceremonies such as first communions and bar mitzvahs, graduations, and times of need such as an illness or a loss in the family.  This is very important to me.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that if I find out that you are working with me while missing important family responsibilities, it will disappoint me greatly.  This has been an unwritten rule since my days in the Senate.

Thank you for all the hard work.

Have you seen a similar memo or email from your boss?  How would such a memo be received in your workplace?

It’s worth thinking about the memo in the context of the differing working environment between the US and UK.

Here in the UK employees have far more holiday time to book out for family responsibilities,  parents get maternity and paternity leave to care for babies and themselves, and the right to request flexible working to manage family commitments, none of which are common in the US.  Europeans are generally horrified when they learn that in the USA there is no legal right to paid holiday, only Sri Lanka (in countries with a population over 150,000) has the same rule, and even there retail and office workers have a 14 day minimum.

On the map below the darker the colour, the more paid leave employees are entitled to (except white, where no data exists). Click the map for more.


Here’s Joe Biden talking about why he sent the memo, and how his experience of single fatherhood shaped his view on how to manage his work life balance and help his employees manage theirs…