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Federal Workplace Flexibility Legislation’s Potential Impact

by Beth Hill, LASHRM At-Large Government Affairs Chair

Building upon increasingly more creative solutions to address the 21st Century Workplace, the Workplace Flexibility in the 21st Century Act is an innovative approach to providing more time off for employees, more predictability for employers and more options for everyone. For participating employers, the legislation would create a single federal framework for providing paid leave, rather than the fragmented patchwork of state and local laws mandating leave. To date, seven states and more than 30 jurisdictions have adopted paid sick leave laws, and this legislative activity is only expected to increase in coming years.

How You Can Take Action? Share your personal HR story with SHRM or your Representative’s DC office. Send them the answer to this question “How will federal workplace flexibility legislation will impact the HR profession, employers and employees in your local area?”.

Background: On November 2, 2017, Representative Mimi Walters (R-CA) introduced H.R. 4219, the Workplace Flexibility in the 21st Century Act. The proposed legislation would amend the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA), to create a qualified flexible work arrangement plan as an employee welfare benefit under the statute. Employers who voluntarily choose to provide their employees a federal standard of paid time off and options for flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or compressed work schedules. This ERISA-covered plan would pre-empt state and local paid leave and Workflex laws.

SHRM believes that the United States must have a 21st Century Workflex policy that works for employers and employees alike, helping them meet work-life and organizational needs. At its core, a 21st Century Workflex policy must facilitate the expansion of paid leave and Workflex options regarding when, where and how work is done. And it must account for different work environments and be accessible by employers of all sizes and in all industries. It must avoid old ways of thinking that hold the workplace back.


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