On November 2, Republican congresswomen introduced legislation that would relieve employers from the growing patchwork of state and local paid employee leave laws in return for their guarantee of certain paid benefits. The Workflex in the 21st Century Act would amend ERISA to create qualified flexible workforce arrangements (QFWA) that would require between 12 and 20 days of paid leave per year depending on the size of the company and the employee’s length of service.
Employers would have the ability to choose among six QFWAs. In addition to paid leave, the arrangements would provide for at least one of the following – telecommuting, job sharing, flexible work schedules, compressed work schedules, predictable scheduling programs, and biweekly work programs – to accommodate employees’ work-life balance. While the proposal would not impact FMLA leave rights or state paid leave insurance programs, it would exempt participating employers from state or local paid leave mandates.
The legislation would require prorated paid leave for part-time staff. Federal holidays count toward up to six of the paid leave days. The bill also covers issues such as carryover of paid leave from one year to the next and cashing out accrued but unused leave upon separation from employment. Larger employers may already offer leave programs that comply with the federal legislation’s requirements. These companies may view the proposal as a way to avoid frequent changes to their existing leave policies based on multistate operations.