Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) have reintroduced legislation that would provide employees with a statutory right to request flexible work terms and conditions. The Flexibility for Working Families Act (H.R. 2559, S. 1248) would authorize an employee to request a change in the terms or conditions of employment relating to: (1) the number of hours the employee is required to work; (2) the times when the employee is required to work or be on call for work; (3) where the employee is required to work; or (4) the amount of notification the employee receives of work schedule assignments.

Upon receiving a request, an employer would be required to hold a meeting with the employee to discuss his or her application and provide a written decision regarding the application “within a reasonable period” after the meeting. If the application is rejected, the employer would be required to provide a reason for the denial. The employer would be permitted to propose an alternative change to the employee’s hours, times, place, and amount of notification of schedule assignments. If the employee is dissatisfied with this proposal and has another supervisor, the employee would have the right to have the other supervisor reconsider the alternate schedule.

To be eligible to take advantage of the terms of this bill, an employee would have 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.

The measure also contains anti-retaliation provisions.

In a press release, Rep. Maloney said:

Across all sectors and industries, flexible work arrangements are a key to meeting the 21st Century’s diverse workforce needs. . . These voluntary arrangements between employees and employers to change the time, amount, or location that work is conducted, allows workers to meet the needs of job and home. Studies show that these policies help businesses reduce turnover and boost employee productivity. It’s a clear win-win for all.

Various versions of this bill have been introduced since the 110th Congress, but have not advanced. Another approach to promoting workplace flexibility is contained in the Working Families Flexibility Act. In May, the House of Representatives passed this measure, which would allow non-exempt private sector employees to opt for paid time off in lieu of payment for overtime hours worked, but the bill is not expected to be taken up by the Senate.