Over the past seven years we have been hosting an annual awards process and ceremony to celebrate employers with nationally-ranked flexibility policies. We have had the good fortune through that process of getting to know many small and large employers throughout Oregon who are working hard to build truly family-supportive workplaces. Many of these employers have become active spokespeople in the fight to ensure that all Oregonians have access to basic rights at work. They have fought for all Oregonians to have paid sick time, to have a decent minimum wage, to have paid family leave, and more. We are proud to work with these forward-thinking employers.
Unfortunately, over the past few years the ownership of the When Work Works Award has shifted to the national Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), and we can no longer, in good faith, continue this partnership. While SHRM encourages individual employers to provide flexible workplaces, it also strongly advocates in Congress against the very rights we are working to secure in Oregon.
This year, SHRM has been advocating heavily in Congress for H.R. 4219 (the misnamed “Workflex in the 21st Century Act”), which would prevent workers in states like Oregon from being able to continue to access their legally protected rights. Around the country, states like Oregon have enacted laws to prevent abusive scheduling practices and provide workers with paid sick days. But this SHRM-sponsored bill would create a loophole for corporations, allowing them to choose not to comply with these laws as long as they create a “qualified flexible workplace arrangement plan.” Essentially rolling back protections we’ve already won in Oregon.
Employers have always had the choice to offer these kinds of benefits and workplace protections voluntarily, or not to. And the reality is that most don’t unless they are legally required to do so – especially in low-wage industries.
Paid sick days and fair work schedules are equity issues that disproportionately impact women and their ability to participate in work and to build economic stability for their families. That’s why we spent years advocating for Oregon to pass laws guaranteeing these rights for workers across the state. We can no longer support the work of SHRM as they work to undo these protections in the name of “corporate flexibility”. Therefore, we will no longer partner with them on the When Work Works Awards.
We will continue to partner with family-supportive employers, and hope you will reach out to us if you are one or know one! There are still many ways for them to join our efforts to build a better Oregon for everyone.