Many companies bend over backwards to make adjustments for employees’ individual needs when assigning jobs and devising schedules. Now there are some folks in Congress who want to make that flexibility mandatory.
Welcome to the Working Families Flexibility Act, a proposal that would legally guarantee employees the right to ask their employers for a change in their work hours, schedule or location. Workers would submit an application for the change, the employer would be required to have a discussion with the worker, and respond with a written decision within 14 days. If the answer’s no, the company has to state the reason for its decision.
The employee would have the right to appeal a denial, and the 14-day discussion-and-decision timeclock starts over again.
The bill would outlaw discrimination or retaliation against employees who made change requests. If held liable, companies would be looking at fines between $1,000 and $5,000 — and in the case of improper termination, employers could be looking at damages and reinstatement.
Questions: Is this bill necessary? Don’t employees already have the right to ask for a change in work situation? No law against asking a question, right?
Is all this extra bureaucracy really going to change the way companies do business? Most place we know already do their best to accommodate employees’ special situations. It makes good sense. Formalizing — and legalizing — the process isn’t going to push an employer into letting workers do things that aren’t in the best interest of the operation.
We’ll keep you posted on how the bill progresses. For an overview of the proposal, go here.