Workplace Flexibility Bill Reintroduced in Senate
Posted on September 30, 2010 by Ilyse Schuman
Last week, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) reintroduced the Working Families Flexibility Act (S. 3840) in the Senate. This measure, which was introduced in the House of Representatives in March 2009 as H.R. 1274, would provide employees with a statutory right to request flexible work terms and conditions. In a statement, Sen. Casey claimed: “70 percent of households are led by either two employed parents, or a single parent,” adding, “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.”
Specifically, the bill would authorize an employee to request from an employer a change in the terms or conditions of the employee’s employment if the request relates to: (1) the number of hours the employee is required to work; (2) the times when the employee is required to work; or (3) where the employee is required to work. Additionally, the measure sets forth certain duties for the employer with respect to such requests. Upon receiving a request, an employer would be required to hold a meeting with the employee within two weeks to discuss his or her application and provide a written decision regarding the application. If the application is rejected, the employer would be required to provide a reason for the denial. If dissatisfied with the employer’s explanation, the employee would have the right to request reconsideration of the employer’s decision, and the parties would be required to once again meet to discuss the reconsideration. The employer’s final decision would need to be in writing, and, if reconsideration is denied, the employer would be required to state grounds for such denial in writing. The measure provides for civil penalties against employers that discriminate or otherwise retaliate against employees who avail themselves of this process. Under the terms of the bill, employees would be entitled to file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) for any violation of the rights granted under the Act. The agency would have the power to investigate such claims, impose civil penalties or other equitable relief such as reinstatement, promotion, back pay, and a change in the terms or conditions of employment.
To be eligible to take advantage of the terms of this bill, an employee would be required to work an average of at least 20 hours per week, or at least 1,000 hours per year. Employers with fewer than 15 employees would be exempt.
This is the latest in a number of bills that have been introduced this legislative session that focus on establishing work/family balance. None of these measures have significantly advanced, and their prospects of doing so seems increasingly unlikely given the current makeup of the Senate and political climate.
Photo credit: lovleah
TAGS: S. 3840, Work-Family Balance, Working Families Flexibility Act