The Workflex in the 21st Century Act: A Federal Paid Leave Plan

By Kathleen J. Jennings (kjj@wimlaw.com)

Yesterday, House Republicans introduced the Workflex in the 21st Century Act (H.R. 4219) as a new approach to work-life balance. This Bill would exempt employers from state and local paid leave obligations if they give workers a certain amount of general paid leave that can be used for medical, family, bereavement, vacation, and other reasons. It would also relieve participating federal contractors from existing paid leave requirements. The amount of leave required would vary from 12 to 20 days a year, including paid holidays, based on the business’s size and the time the worker has been on the job. Note that businesses seeking the safe harbor under this Bill would also have to offer at least one flexible work arrangement, like telecommuting, compressed schedules, and predictable or flexible schedules. Full-time and part-time workers would be eligible for the paid leave and flexible work arrangement benefits.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), helped design the legislation and is a strong supporter of it, as are employer groups. Supporters of this measure assert that this law would relieve employers from the burden of complying with a growing number of state and local laws that may require them to provide different amounts of paid leave to employees. Critics claim that this measure would give employees less leave time and less flexibility because the measure gives employers too much power to restrict when and how workers use their leave time.

You can view the Fact Sheet prepared by SHRM here. We’ll keep an eye on this legislation and provide updates as necessary.

Kathleen Jennings, Principal is a principal in the Atlanta office of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider, & Stine, P.C. She defends employers in sexual harassment and other employment litigation and provides training and counseling to employers in employment matters. She can be contacted at kjj@wimlaw.com.

©2017 Wimberly Lawson

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