Now is the Time for “Workflex in the 21st Century”

We are fortunate that the modern workplace has opened new doors and changed how we think about when and where work is done. This makes all the difference in the world for employees navigating trying times and for employers who want to help themthrough times of need.  

Regrettably, workplace policies here in California and across the country have not kept up with the times.The current patchwork of state and local laws makes facilitating paid leave and flexible work arrangements overly complicated, especially for multi-state employers. Policymakers have created a maze of regulations that inhibit employers’ ability to accommodate the work-life needs of their employees.

That’s where the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, H.R. 4219, comes in. Introduced in Congress by our own Rep. Mimi Walters (CA 45thDistrict), the bill offers concrete solutions for employees and small businesses like mine. This business-friendly legislation stands apart – offering voluntary participation instead of government mandates. It suits the broadest array of workplaces by using an incentive mechanism, along with scaled amounts of leave.

For employers who voluntarily participate, H.R. 4219 would create a single national framework for paid leave (at a higher level than what California currently requires), rather than the fragmented patchwork of state and local regulations. Employers could opt into an ERISA covered plan tailored to their employees’ needs that would satisfy local/state mandates and remove the uncertainty caused by endless changes to state employee leave laws that keep business owners spinning.

As the president and founder of a wealth management firm with a long history here in Orange County, I am committed to delivering the very best results for my clients and a positive culture for my employees. For more than two decades in Irvine, I have supported my wonderful team and worked to make our community stronger.

My team at WealthWise Financial Services is like family, which means we are there for each other during challenging times. When a member of our team needs to care for an ailing loved one, take time to cope with the devastating loss of a family member or a single mother needs to stay home with a sick child, I strive to be there for them. 

A few years ago, the father of one of my key employees was diagnosed with terminal cancer. To care for him in his time of need, she had to commute to another state every week. Soon after his passing, her beloved grandmother, also living out of state, started to rapidly decline in health. During this extraordinarily difficult time, we did everything we could to support her through taking time off and taking on her workload so that she could tend to family matters. 

This is why we need to encourage greater employer adoption of paid leave and flexible work options, rather than more rigid rules. In today’s competitive job market, business owners like myself are adjusting to the changing needs of the modern workforce. By simplifying regulations, we can facilitate the changes that are taking place around us and not be a barrier to the changes that are upon us. 

The Workflex in the 21st Century Act is an innovative approach to providing more paid time off for employees, more predictability for employers and more options for everyone – a responsible solution for government, employers, employees and taxpayers.  

This bill strikes the right balance between the flexibility needed by employees and the stability and consistency needed by employers. 

It’s time for a consistent, voluntary national workforce standard for paid leave and flexible work arrangements to which all states can conform. It’s time for the Workflex in the 21st Century Act. Let’s make this a bipartisan issue where both sides come together. Please contact your representatives in Congress and encourage them to support this vital legislation. 

Loreen Gilbert

President, WealthWise Financial Services

Executive Board Member, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)