Workflex Legislation: A 21st Century Workplace Solution



As an HR professional, it can be challenging to keep up with legal and compliance matters, much less stay on top of the changes being discussed by our legislators. One of the benefits of being involved with the SHRM Advocacy Team (aka A-Team) is that they provide a quarterly webinar where they talk about issues that are being in Washington.

On the last call, SHRM shared some information about H.R. 4219 (Workflex in the 21st Century Act). This SHRM-backed legislation is focused on two hot topics in our workplaces right now – paid leave and flexible work.

Lisa Horn, director of congressional affairs at SHRM, indicated that many SHRM members have expressed frustration about the different types of leaves mandated by state and local governments and suggested that it would be win for everyone if legislation gave employees guaranteed leave benefits while giving employers the flexibility they need to run their business.

So, SHRM developed the Workflex in the 21st Century Act to accomplish those two goals: 1) provide employees with guaranteed paid leave and a workflex option AND 2) give employers the flexibility to create and administer a policy that aligns with their business and culture. Basically, the Act does three things:

  1. It’s voluntary for employers. Organizations can voluntarily offer employees a qualified flexible work arrangement plan that includes a federal standard of paid time off and options for flexible work.
  2. It pre-empts state and local provisions. Workflex would be an ERISA covered plan so employers that opt in would benefit from  preemption from state and local paid leave sick laws.
  3. It’s fiscally responsible. Because the law is voluntary, organizations have the ability to decide if this fits their budget. And if they do opt-in, they have control over the types of flexible work options they offer to employees.

And let’s not forget what this Act does for employees. Organizations are focused on recruitment, engagement, and retention. This Workflex Act is designed to give employees a desired benefit that they will actively seek when looking at future job opportunities.

How You Can Help Make Workflex a Reality

This is one of those moments where HR has a real opportunity to make a difference for employees and the business. Now, it needs people – like us – to start talking about it with our legislators.

Check out the Workflex page on the SHRM Policy Action Center for more information. Here are two things you can do to support the bill:

Advocating for our profession is an integral part of being an HR business leader. But it means getting involved from the beginning to help our legislators understand what organizations and employees want. The Workflex bill is a great place to start.




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