A 2014 memo written when President-elect Joe Biden was the Vice President resurfaced on Twitter in November and has since gone viral on Facebook — and for a good reason.
The memo is brief, but the message in it is clear: Biden wanted then for all of his employees and staffers to make family their first priority, and their job working for him as a lesser one.
“To My Wonderful Staff,” Biden wrote, opening the letter, “I would like to take a moment to 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.”
He then goes on to clear up exactly what family obligations are: “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,” he wrote.
The family-forward approach shouldn’t be too surprising now — after all, the Biden administration will push paid family leave and Biden has hired many parents of young children and often talks about raising his children on his own after the death of his wife and daughter. But it’s rare to see such pointed instructions about not being at work from an employer in any setting, even those who are family-oriented.
By coincidence: exactly 6 years ago today, as Vice President of the USA, Joe Biden sent this note to his staff.
I presume in the background, thoughts of his first wife & daughter who died long ago; or his son, who died of cancer just a few months after this note.
Worth reading. pic.twitter.com/UwBbJ8A73i
— dan barker (@danbarker) November 7, 2020
“This is very important to me,” he wrote. “In fact, I will go as far to say that if I find out 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.”
Everyone knows, of course, that an employer being disappointed is far worse than them being mad at you, and Biden really lays into his staffers by using that particular turn of phrase. He concluded the letter by thanking his staffers for all their hard work.
While the office of the president might have more time-sensitive work than that of the VP, Biden has long billed himself as a family man, and it’s hard to imagine that he’ll approach working in the Oval Office that much different than he does in his 2014 letter. That’s great because the man has hired tons of parents of young kids, who are right now navigating a pandemic and working in the highest levels of public office in the United States. That is no easy task, after all.