The US Department of Labor defines workplace flexibility as a Universal Strategy that can meet the needs of employers and their employees, which includes when, where, and how work is done. In response to evolving workplace dynamics the Workflex in the 21st Century Act (H.R. 4219) was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in conjunction with HR professionals and Congress, created the Act which jointly addresses flexible working arrangements and paid time off (PTO) for employees.

This proposed legislation, led by SHRM, strives to present a policy that benefits both employers and employees alike, addressing the growing demand for work-life balance while continuing to meet organizational needs. This creative, voluntary approach seeks to provide more structure that benefit employers while increasing paid time off and workflex options for all employees, resulting in a responsible solution for all affected. With bipartisan support from the Progressive Policy Institute and the Republican Main Street Partnership, the legislation would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) allowing both full- and part-time employees the access to paid leave as well as a workplace flexibility option. If an employer chooses not to offer the plans, they would remain under state and local paid leave laws.

Three Things to Know about New SHRM-Backed Workplace Flexibility Proposed Legislation

1) Workflex legislation is INNOVATIVE

  • New Approach: Expands paid leave and workplace flexibility options with innovative workplace strategies
  • Voluntary, Opt-in System:
    • Voluntarily offer qualified flexible work arrangement plan under ERISA
    • Federal standard of paid time off and options for flexible work arrangements
  • Fiscally Responsible: Counters expensive, one-size-fits-all mandates and expands coverage

2) Workflex legislation is FAIR

  • Paid Leave Guaranteed to All Employees: Employers who opt in would offer more robust guaranteed paid leave; employers who do not opt in would continue to be covered by state and local paid leave provisions.
  • Workflex Guaranteed to All Employees: Employees of employers who opt in would receive guaranteed access to flexible workplace options.
  • Employers Gain Predictability: Federal framework for paid leave and Workflex offers predictability to employers who opt in, and the flexibility to offer more options.

3) Workflex legislation is COMPETITIVE

  • Complements Unpaid Leave: Workflex complements Family and Medical Leave Act unpaid leave by providing additional paid time-off options.
  • More Flexibility: Workflex would give workers more flexibility while reducing regulatory burdens on employers.
  • Reduces Complexity: The proposed legislation would provide well-defined paid leave and Workflex options for all employees.


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