Workplace leave policies are out of date, subcommittee is told

Public policy on paid leave and workplace flexibility options is behind the times, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) testified today during a subcommittee hearing on workplace leave policies and their impact on job providers and working families.
There are numerous challenges with today’s approach to workplace policy, including compliance with a patchwork of state and local laws and one-size-fits-all paid sick leave mandates, according to Angie Schaefer, vice president of human resources at Safety National in St. Louis, who testified on behalf of SHRM’s 285,000 member organizations before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Compliance with such “fragmented” rules, said Schaefer, has been costly for businesses, including her own. She explained that Safety National “had to implement an entirely new payroll system to account for varying accrual and roll-over rules. This effort has been particularly time consuming and difficult as these laws require our outside legal counsel to interpret the various leave laws to ensure that our policies are in compliance.”
Schaefer said that the Workplace in the 21st Century Act, which was recently introduced in Congress and developed with SHRM’s guidance, provides a solution that works for both employers and employees and expands “paid leave and workflex options regarding when, where and how work is done, while accounting for differences in work environments, employer size and industry.”
According to SHRM, under the Workplace in the 21st Century Act:

1. Employers can voluntarily offer a plan that provides their employees a federal standard of paid leave and options for flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting or compressed work schedules.
2. Both full-time and part-time employees who opt into this plan would receive guaranteed paid leave that exceed all state and nearly all local mandates.
3. Strong anti-retaliation protections are provided for employees. Employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against any employee based on the employee’s request for leave or any other benefits provided in plan.

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