SHRM to Seek Alternative to Healthy Families Act to Encourage Paid Leave

May 18, 2009

Human Resource Experts Cite Need for Legislation that will Meet Needs of Employees and Employers Alike

Alexandria, Va.– The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) today urged Congress to seek consensus legislation on workplace flexibility policy rather than a bill that would mandate paid sick leave.SHRM was responding to today’s introduction of the Healthy Families Act, which would mandate all employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide at least seven days of paid sick leave every year.

“We believe that employers should be encouraged to offer paid leave as part of every full-time employee’s benefit plan – but we oppose an inflexible, one-size-fits-all government mandate,” said Laurence O’Neil, SHRM President and CEO.“Our goal is to seek legislation that will encourage paid leave, but not discourage the creation of quality new jobs.”

As introduced, the Healthy Families Act would also lock-in existing leave benefits, thereby limiting or eliminating an employer’s flexibility in making even minor adjustments in leave provisions.This is significant because many employers tailor leave policies to meet an individual employee’s needs. Any federal mandate that restricts an employer’s ability to offer such voluntary leave policies could work against employees.

SHRM recently outlined a series of principles to guide the development of a federal policy on workplace flexibility that would:

  • Encourage employers to offer uniform and coordinated paid leave;
  • Create administrative and compliance incentives for employers who meet the leave standard;
  • Provide certainty, predictability and accountability for employers and employees; and
  • Allow for different work environments, industries and organizational size.

“Employers and employees both want flexibility and predictability when it comes to leave policy.We look forward to working with Congress and all other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive policy that meets the needs of the 21st Century workplace,” O’Neil concluded.

To review SHRM’s Principles for a 21st Century Workplace Flexibility Policy, visit


The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at


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