WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today introduced the Working Families Flexibility Act to give workers the right to request flexible work options to allow workers to balance responsibilities at work and at home. This legislation would encourage workers and employers to work out mutually beneficial arrangements without fear of retaliation.
“Today, 70 percent of households are led by either two employed parents, or a single parent,” said Senator Casey. “This also means there are increased demands that can put strains on families and also hurt workforce productivity. The legislation I have introduced today can help create flexible work options that can benefit workers and employers.”
Long championed by Senator Ted Kennedy, this bill acknowledges the realities of our modern workforce by providing employees the “right to request” flexible work options in terms of hours, schedules and work location. Further, the legislation provides employers with flexibility by encouraging them to review these requests, propose changes and even deny workers if the request is not in the best interest of the business. Lastly, the legislation imposes civil penalties on any employer who discriminates against an employee for exercising any right granted under this legislation. This provision is necessary to protect workers who initiate a conversation with their employer about workplace flexibility options.
Flexibility can mean telecommuting, job sharing or part-time work. For workers, this flexibility means greater control about when and where they get their work done. For employers, it means less turn over, higher morale and more productive employees. It can be a win-win for both employer and employee.
The Working Families Flexibility Act has been introduced in the House by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is a cosponsor of Senator Casey’s bill.
SUMMARY OF WORKING FAMILIES FLEXIBILITY ACT
The Working Families Flexibility Act gives employees the right to request flexible work options. This legislation will ensure that working Americans can ask their employer for modified schedules so they can balance the demands of their jobs and their home life. Under this legislation:
-An employee may request to modify his or her hours, schedule, or work location.
-Employees and employers will engage in an interactive process to discuss the employee’s needs and how to address them with no or minimal disruption to the employer’s business.
-Employers who deny a request must explain the grounds for the denial.
-Employees who make requests are protected from retaliation.
-Small businesses are exempt from the law.
-The Department of Labor will develop regulations to smoothly administer the process, while ensuring the protection of employees’ legal rights.