SHRM-Supported Bill to Expand Paid Leave and Flexibility for All Employees Introduced in House

Employers that opt in to the program guarantee full- and part-time employees minimum level of paid leave and workflex opportunity

November 2, 2017
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an ongoing proponent of workplace flexibility and paid leave, applauded the introduction of a bill today by U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) that would expand these benefits for all employees. 

Under the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, employers could opt to participate by guaranteeing paid leave and a flexible work – or workflex – option, such as a compressed work schedule, telecommuting or job-sharing, to all full-time and part-time employees. In exchange, employers would gain predictability by following a federal standard for paid leave and workflex as opposed to complying with a patchwork of state and local paid leave laws.

“With the input of many HR professionals, SHRM has worked with Congress to develop an innovative and effective approach to providing paid leave and workflex to employees,” SHRM President and CEO Henry G. (Hank) Jackson said. “SHRM believes this bill addresses employers’ concerns over navigating a myriad of complex and confusing state and local paid leave mandates while answering employees’ call for flexibility on the job.”

The Workflex in the 21st Century Act, developed with SHRM’s leadership, would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Under this new approach, all employees—including those working part time—would gain access to paid leave and a workplace flexibility option, which is not currently guaranteed under existing federal law. Employers that do not choose to offer these plans would remain under state and local paid leave laws.

Employers, not taxpayers or employees, would bear all costs.

“As our personal and professional responsibilities continue to grow, hard-working Americans should have access to scheduling options that will provide better options to help them meet their work and family needs,” Walters said. “Workflex will allow employees the opportunity to spend more time with their families and in their communities, without increasing taxes or creating new mandates. This innovative legislation will provide the flexibility employees need.”

The level of paid leave offered would depend on an employee’s tenure and the employer’s size. For example, an organization with between 250 and 999 employees would be required to provide employees with fewer than five years of service 14 paid days off, while those with five or more years of service would receive 18 days. 

“This bill’s paid leave requirements are more generous than all state paid leave laws,” explained Lisa Horn, director of congressional affairs and workplace flexibility at SHRM. “It also addresses the need for workflex for everyone—from new parents to non-parents, from Millennials to Boomers. It will help all individuals achieve a better work-life fit.” 

SHRM has engaged HR professionals while developing this legislation in consultation with Walters. A SHRM member, Nancy McKeague, senior vice president and chief of staff for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, said about the value of workflex: “The positives are that employees will feel like they have more control over how they put their workday together. It doesn’t necessarily have to fit in a 9-to-5 day anymore. They have the ability to telecommute, for example. They can work after they put their children to bed. It shows them we trust them to get the work done.”

The bill, H.R. 4219, has been referred to the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Follow the introduction of today’s bill on Twitter: #WorkFlexBill.

Media: For more information or to request an interview, contact Vanessa Hill of SHRM Media Relations at and 703-535-6072 or Kate Kennedy at 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 and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SHRMPress. 


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