Fact Sheet: Workflex in the 21st Century Act

Nov 2, 2017
Overview: On Nov. 2, 2017, U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) along with co-sponsors U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) introduced the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, legislation that is based on concepts originally developed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The bill is a first-of-its-kind combination of guaranteed paid leave and increased workplace flexibility (“workflex”) options. Under the legislation, employers would voluntarily offer full- and part-time employees at least a guaranteed minimum level of paid leave. The amount would depend on an employee’s tenure and the employer’s size. Participating employers also would offer to all employees at least one type of workflex option. 

SHRM Position: The SHRM-supported legislation expands paid leave to all employees and provides workflex options. It gives employers more certainty and predictability over their leave practices, rather than having to comply with the current, fragmented patchwork of state and local laws. SHRM believes this bill would give employees the job flexibility they are seeking, while providing employers more predictability.

Details: 

• This legislation would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by providing participating employers flexibility and predictability in designing workflex offerings. 

• Paid leave would be extended to all full-time and part-time employees. Employees may accrue leave over the course of a plan year or employers may offer employees a leave lump sum amount at the start of the plan year. New employees would be subject to restrictions on the use of leave during the first 90 days of employment.

• Employers, not taxpayers, would pay the cost of paid leave provided for in the bill.

• Paid leave requirements would be scaled to the size of the employer’s workforce and the tenure of the employee, allowing employers to design a leave plan that meets the needs of the organization and its employees. 

• Part-time workers would be entitled to a proportional amount of paid leave based on the number of hours they work. 

• To be eligible for a workflex arrangement, an employee would have to be employed for at least 12 months by the employer and would have to have worked at least 1,000 hours during the previous 12 months.

• Under the plan, employers would offer at least one of the following workflex arrangements to each eligible employee: compressed work schedule, biweekly work program, telecommuting program, job-sharing program, flexible scheduling or a predictable schedule. 

• Eight states and more than 30 jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, have adopted their own paid sick leave laws. However, under this legislation, this ERISA-covered plan would pre-empt state and local paid leave and workflex laws. The measure would not affect laws on unpaid leave.

• The legislation would not affect the coverage protections afforded under the Family and Medical Leave Act. 

Media: For more information or to request an interview with a member of SHRM’s government affairs staff, contact Vanessa Hill of SHRM Media Affairs at Vanessa.Hill@shrm.org and 703-535-6072 or Kate Kennedy at Kate.Kennedy@shrm.org and 703-535-6260. 



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