Getting on the Flexibility Train
Exciting news from the US House of Representatives today: a bill has been introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative Carolyn Maloney that mirrors flexibility laws in place in several European countries. The bill, called the Working Family Flexibility Act, would give many working Americans the right to request flexible work schedules (meaning a change in work hours, schedule or location) to balance work and family. Co-sponsors include Senators Dodd, Clinton, Obama, and Congressman George Miller.
What's the big deal? Can't people already ask for flexibility? Can't we ask our bosses for free ice cream or a relocation to Hawaii in this country of free speech? If the bill only 'allows' us to ask, what good is it? Well, it might actually be fantastic. Similar law in Britain has been a smashing success by most measures, with about 90% of employees' requests receiving a 'yes' from their employers. Per British law, employers must seriously consider every request and be able to demonstrate hardship for every denied request. The law was enacted in 2003, and so far it that hardship has obviously been minimal.
So, we're thrilled to see a similar bill even considered in our own government. Yes, it is only the very beginning of a legislative process that could bury or destroy it before any law is passed, but it is the right first step.
Let's join in a round of applause for the Working Family Flexibility Act!