A new SHRM-endorsed House bill promotes paid employee leave across the country

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is touting this bill, known as the “Workflex in the 21st Century Act” (you can view it here) as “a first-of-its-kind combination of guaranteed paid leave and increased options for flexible work arrangements.”

Fair warning, I’m going to quote liberally from other sources for this post. For example, here’s SHRM’s overview of the bill:

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…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.

Do you want details on the bill? Well, SHRM has those too (in this fact sheet):

  • 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.

SHRM has some more details on the bill in this Q&A. And, if you’re a visual person, SHRM also has an infographic, another infographic, and yes, yet another infographic. Oh, right, there’s a video too.

What are other folks saying about Workflex? The Progressive Policy Institute digs it and Twitter seems cool with it.

The overall purpose of this bill appears to be two-fold: (1) provide employees some more flexibility to balance life and work; while (2) relieving the burden on employees who have to navigate a number of state and local paid leave laws.

Obviously, it’s very early in the game to predict how this will turn out. But, I’ll keep you updated.

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