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On November 2, Representative Mimi Walters (R-CA) introduced H.R. 4219, the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, culminating a multi-year effort by SHRM and its members to develop a workplace flexibility (workflex) public policy that meets the needs of both employers and employees. The bill has two original cosponsors, Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Upon introduction, the bill also drew immediate bipartisan support from the Progressive Policy Institute and the Republican Main Street Partnership, which should bolster its chances of advancing during the second session of the 115th Congress.
Rather than a one-size-fits-all government mandate included in numerous congressional proposals to date, H.R. 4219 offers employers an incentive voluntarily to provide employees paid leave and flexible work options. The bill would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to allow employers the option of offering a qualified workflex plan that includes a federal minimum standard of paid leave and flexible work arrangements. This new ERISA plan would pre-empt eight current state sick-leave laws, along with over 35 local paid leave ordinances and certain workflex laws—giving participating employers the ability to follow a federal framework for paid leave and workflex, as opposed to complying with a range of complex and conflicting state and local leave laws.
Key provisions of the bill are outlined below.
In conjunction with the bill being introduced, SHRM launched a new coalition titled Employers for Flexibility (E4F) to rally employer support for H.R. 4219. (Be sure to follow @Employers4Flex on Twitter for the latest coalition updates.)
SHRM member advocacy in support of the bill, however, will start immediately, as nearly 400 SHRM members and HR professionals will advocate in support of the bill on Capitol Hill next week during the SHRM Volunteer Leaders' Summit.
For more information on the bill, including member advocacy opportunities, visit the SHRM Policy Action Center's Workflex Campaign and follow the conversation on Twitter using #WorkflexBill.
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