Workflex Bill Provides Solution to Broken Paid Leave System, SHRM CEO Tells Congressional Subcommittee

SHRM president and CEO testifies on benefits of the Workflex in the 21st Century Act for both employers and employees

July 24, 2018
Workflex Bill Provides Solution to Broken Paid Leave System, SHRM CEO Tells Congressional Subcommittee

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. gave testimony during the Workflex in the 21st Century Act hearing on Tuesday, July 24.​

WASHINGTON — The Workflex in the 21st Century Act provides a nationwide solution to paid leave that benefits both employers and employees, explained Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), during today’s congressional hearing.

The legislative hearing, which was held by the Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, focused on (H.R. 4219), which was introduced by Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., this past November. 

“The legislation we are discussing today would bring workplace rules up to the standards needed in the present-day workplace,” Taylor said. “This bill would make it easier for employers to offer innovative paid leave and workflex options to support employees’ work-life needs, while enabling them to also meet their business goals by attracting and retaining the talent they need.” 

Under this bill, employers who opt in to the program would guarantee full- and part-time employees at least a minimum amount of paid leave plus a flexible work opportunity. 

The flexible-work component of the bill refers to alternative work arrangements that help employees get work done beyond traditional work hours, schedules or locations while still meeting business needs (e.g., telecommuting, job-sharing or a compressed work schedule). 

In return, employers would have the predictability of a federal standard for paid leave and workflex as opposed to being required to comply with numerous and often conflicting state and local paid leave laws. 

Taylor also explained several challenges that SHRM members face under current paid sick leave laws. 

“As the largest professional association for human resource professionals, SHRM hears consistently from members that the patchwork of paid sick leave laws across the countrywhich often conflict with one anothercreate an unnecessary burden on employers, especially employers operating in more than one location,” he said. “Because states and localities continue to enact policies that micromanage how organizations provide leave benefits, employers and employees need a national solution to this complex web of leave requirements now more than ever.”

Rep. Walters, who introduced the bill said, “Workflex will give hard-working Americans the flexibility they need to address their growing professional and personal responsibilities. The paid leave and flexible work arrangement benefits offered by Workflex allows employees to meet their work-life needs, while giving employers the tools they need to attract and retain talent.  Today’s hearing highlighted how Workflex can benefit both employers and employees throughout the country.”

In his testimony, Taylor outlined how H.R. 4219 provides that solution, listing additional reasons for its support:

1. It allows employees to take paid time off for a range of purposes, including their own sick time or time off to care for a sick loved one or for any other reason.
2. Both full- and part-time employees of employers who opt in to this program would receive guaranteed paid leave that exceeds all state and nearly all local sick leave mandates, while employees of nonparticipating employers would continue to be covered by state and local paid leave requirements, where applicable.  
3. Employees of participating employers would receive guaranteed access to flexible workplace arrangements—options that are not currently required by law.  
4. H.R. 4219 amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to allow employers to offer this new workflex plan. Using this well-established statute means that the bill also includes strong employee protections under the statute, including anti-retaliation protections for employees. 

The Workflex in the 21st Century Act has attracted strong support from the employer community, including the SHRM-led coalition Employers for Flexibility. H.R. 4219 has been endorsed by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, the HR Policy Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, the National Association of Women Business Owners, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Additionally, 48 SHRM state councils and 166 SHRM chapters have endorsed the bill. 

Details: Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., members of SHRM’s government affairs team and HR professionals are available for interviews following the hearing. The text of Taylor’s testimony is available online: http://bit.ly/SHRMSupportsHR4219.


For additional resources on the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, visit: https://www.shrm.org/about-shrm/press-room/Pages/Workflex-in-the-21st-Century-Act.aspx 

Media: To schedule an interview, please contact Vanessa Hill at Vanessa.Hill@shrm.org and 703-535-6072 or Kate Kennedy at Kate.Kennedy@shrm.org and 703-535-6260.

About the Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR professional society, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries. For nearly seven decades, the Society has been the leading provider of resources serving the needs of HR professionals and advancing the practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit us at shrm.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SHRMPress. 



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