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Federal Paid Leave and Flexible Work Options Bill Introduced

A new federal bill proposes a voluntary approach to paid time off and work flexibility for employees. Get details on the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, which was introduced in early November.
  • The Workflex in the 21st Century Act would offer a voluntary approach to paid time off and flexible work schedules.
  • The amount of paid leave benefits under the Act would be determined based on employer size and employee tenure.
  • Paid leave benefits would extend to all full-time and part-time employees working for employers who comply with the provisions of the proposed legislation.
  • The Act would preempt state and local paid sick leave laws. Coverage under the Family Medical Leave Law and unpaid state family leave laws would not be affected.

The Workflex in the 21st Century Act would preempt patchwork of state and local laws

On Nov. 2, 2017, three Republican members of the House of Representatives introduced the Workflex in the 21st Century Act (HR 4219), which proposes a voluntary approach to paid time off and work flexibility for employees. The legislation, which is proposed as an ERISA amendment, would preempt state and local paid sick leave laws for employers who opt in to the requirements to offer a minimum amount of paid leave and offer at least one flexible work arrangement or predictive scheduling to employees.

Employers that choose to participate in the program must:

  • Provide their full- and part-time employees with paid leave based on the size of the employer and the tenure of the employee;
  • Offer all eligible employees at least one flexible work (workflex) option or predictive scheduling, which could include a compressed work schedule, a telecommuting program, or a job-sharing program, among others; and
  • Meet applicable ERISA reporting and disclosure requirements

Under the legislative proposal, minimum paid leave requirements are as follows:

Employer Size

Amount of leave for workers with 5 or more years of service

Amount of leave for workers with less than 5 years of service

1,000 or more employees

20 days

16 days

250-999 employees

18 days

14 days

50-249 employees

15 days

13 days

Less than 50 employees

14 days

12 days

 Flexible work arrangements under the proposal could include:

  • A four-day workweek with longer daily hours;
  • A two-week program allowing employees to work 80 hours over that span;
  • A telecommuting arrangement;
  • A job-sharing program;
  • Flexible hours; or
  • A predictable schedule.

Possible reprieve for employers operating in multiple jurisdictions

It was clear during a subcommittee hearing held in early December that larger, multi-jurisdictional employers were encouraged by the potential for federal legislation that was optional, but could also potentially ease their burden of having to comply with varied provisions in paid sick leave laws in the many state and local jurisdictions where their employees were working.  

Paychex will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation and provide updates where applicable.

Tammy Tyler

Tammy Tyler is an employment law compliance manager at Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of integrated solutions for payroll, HR, retirement, and insurance services.

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This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.

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