Late in 2017, California Rep. Mimi Walters introduced the Workflex in the 21st Century Act – the country’s first-ever federal paid leave law (HR 4219) in the House of Representatives.
As first conceived, this new bill would require companies to provide paid leave hours – determined by company size and employee’s length of service – and a so-called “workplace flexibility” (workflex) option.
Employers would have the ability to opt-in or out of the program, and if they choose to opt-in, they would be required to adhere only to the federal paid leave law and not state and local paid leave laws.
How much paid leave could be expected under this proposal?
The amount of leave would be determined by company size and length of service. For example, a company with 250 to 999 employees would be required to provide sick leave of 20 days to employees with five or more years of service and 16 days of leave to employees with less than five years of service. Employers with fewer than 50 employees would be required to provide sick leave of 14 days to employees with five or more years of service and 12 days of leave to employees with less than five years of service.
What would workplace flexibility look like under the so-called Workflex Options?
This element would be in addition to the paid leave day provisions of the bill. Here are a few examples:
- Compressed scheduling (Allowing employees to increase daily hours to qualify for a four-day workweek)
- Biweekly work program (permitting employees to work a total of 80 hours over a two-week period)
- Remote work options
- Job-sharing programs
- Flexible scheduling
- Predictive scheduling
As now conceived, employers would only be required to offer workflex options to employees with at least a year of service who have worked at least 1,000 hours in the past 12 months.
Would all employees be eligible for these benefits?
Yes – but, they would not be entitled to receive the paid leave offered under this bill until after 90 days of employment.
Will employees be able to accrue paid leave?
Employers may choose from two options here:
- Employers can allow employees to accrue paid leave throughout the year
- Or, employers can offer the paid leave to employees as a lump sum at the beginning of the year.
Does this bill have a chance of passage?
As Congress is currently organized – unlikely.
Is a federal act like this one part of the future for employers? Only time will tell.
If you are an employer in Connecticut and have questions about matters about Family and Medical Leave provisions, contact the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale. Each of us has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of employment and labor law and can help you with this complicated topic. Please contact us if we can help you.
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