HR Policy-Supported Paid Leave Legislation Introduced

July 16, 2021

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) introduced the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, which would create a voluntary framework for employers to provide uniform paid leave benefits and flexible work arrangements to their employees, while providing a safe harbor against the patchwork of state and local laws.

The bill was originally introduced by then Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) in 2017 with the support of HR Policy.  The bill would allow employers to voluntarily offer employees a qualified flexible work arrangement plan under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that includes:

  • A federal standard of paid time off for both full- and part-time employees; and

  • At least one of six possible flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, flexible and predictable scheduling, and job-sharing programs. 

Most notably, the ERISA-covered plan would provide a safe harbor against the patchwork of state and local paid leave requirements, enabling multi-state employers to provide uniform benefits and relieving them of the complex administrative compliance burden of myriad paid leave laws.  HR Policy has advocated, in its Workplace 2020 Report and elsewhere, for a federal standard that provides a safe harbor for employers to provide uniform leave benefits for all types of workers. 

Outlook:  With Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, the Workflex in the 21st Century Act is unlikely to move in this Congress, particularly as Democrats pursue their own approaches to paid leave, including the FAMILY Act (S. 248) and the Building an Economy for Families Act.  The Association remains highly engaged with policymakers on paid leave issues and will continue to educate its members on potential legislation in the coming months.