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The government has focused a lot of attention lately on workplace issues, increasing enforcement against such problems as worker misclassification and Fair Labor Standards Act violations. Now it appears that the current administration’s latest crusade is workplace flexibility.

The Department of Labor, lead by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, is heading up several national dialogues on the subject of workplace flexibility. The goal is to bring business leaders, family advocacy groups, labor unions, and the government together to share ideas on how to help workers balance their work and family lives.

In an op-ed piece Solis wrote for The Dallas Morning News, however, the government’s efforts to encourage flexibility go beyond talk. The administration is trying to push through the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to seven paid sick days to its employees. Another pending act know as the Working Families Flexibility Act would give employees the right to request changes in the terms or conditions of their employment if the changes relate to the number of hours, times, or location where the work is to be performed.

FoxHire has talked a lot about employers’ need for flexibility and how contracting can help companies adjust their workforce during this still uncertain economy. But contracting can help workers achieve flexibility, too. Many contract assignments are project-based and can be completed on the worker’s schedule rather than the typically rigid nine to five constraints. And if they need time off, they can easily take it by choosing to not to take any assignments for a period of time.

And as the government gets serious about legislating workplace flexibility, companies can avoid some of the cost that will be associated with these new mandates. By hiring someone on a contract basis and outsourcing the employment of those contractors to a contracting back-office, those companies are no longer on the hook for the costs associated with providing paid leave or other initiatives that may be required in the future because compliance with those laws will be the responsibility of the contracting back-office.

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