SHRM working on bill to enhance paid leave, flexible policies

Register now

The Society for Human Resource Management is working on legislation that would incentivize more employers to offer paid leave and flexible work arrangements to help meet employees’ work-life needs, the organization said this week at its annual conference in New Orleans.

The proposal has been in motion for the past couple of years, but it will gain steam in the coming months and will likely result in a bill introduction this summer, said Lisa Horn, SHRM’s director of congressional affairs.

The bill would amend ERISA. Employers who voluntarily choose to provide their employees a minimum standard of paid time off and options for flexible work arrangements — such as telecommuting and/or compressed work schedules — will qualify for a federal safe harbor and be deemed to have satisfied state and local paid sick leave laws, providing greater predictability, Horn explains.

California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island have mandatory paid family leave mandates. In California, there also are six localities that require paid sick leave, creating multiple layers of compliance, SHRM said.

The world’s largest HR professional society will meet with representatives from the Trump administration this week to discuss leave and how they can help propel the issue. President Trump is a proponent of paid parental leave policies and was the only Republican presidential candidate in history to include paid maternity leave in his platform. Still, SHRM representatives said their view on leave goes beyond parental leave, and they hope to talk with the administration about widening its view.

The legislation is likely to be introduced in July by Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA), Horn notes. “Once the bill is introduced, SHRM and its members will be advocating in support of the bill to build broad support in Congress.”

“Rather than rigid, one-size-fits-all mandates, SHRM is advocating for a new approach to workplace flexibility and paid leave that benefits both employers and employees,” Horn says, noting that the proposal is a win-win for both employers and employers.

“[It] benefits employers who currently must comply with a patchwork of overlapping and complex state and local paid sick leave laws,” she said. “By offering a certain amount of paid leave and flexible work options, participating employers would satisfy these state and local leave requirements. Employees also benefit in that they gain both paid leave and a flexible work option.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.