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SHRM Testifies before Senate on H1N1 and Need for Flexible Paid Leave Policies
Date:11/10/2009

SHRM member from Wingate Healthcare outlines SHRM's voluntary paid leave principles

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In testimony today before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families, Elissa O'Brien, SPHR, vice president of human resources for Wingate Healthcare, urged Congress to consider alternative approaches to policies governing workplace leave that reflect the needs of today's workforce. O'Brien testified on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which represents 250,000 HR professionals and is the world's largest human resources organization.

In her testimony, O'Brien outlined Wingate Healthcare's flexible paid time off (PTO) plan that provides the company's 4,000 employees with paid leave for use for any reason.

"A flexible PTO policy such as ours supports and encourages employees to stay home for their illness, or if needed, to stay home to care for a close family member with an illness," O'Brien stated. Wingate offers up to 26 days of paid leave for new employees, which increases to 33 days after seven years with the company.

"We believe most employers and HR professionals are responding appropriately and proactively during this national emergency, either through paid time off, or by relaxing attendance or absenteeism policies, allowing more alternative schedules, and promoting telecommuting," she testified.

In a September poll, 74 percent of SHRM members said they already are telling employees not to report to work if they have flu- and cold-like symptoms, while 23 percent plan to do the same. Fifty percent said they plan to send employees home who show flu- and cold-like symptoms. As the national focus on H1N1 has grown in recent months, it is highly likely that an even larger percentage of employers have adopted a similar approach.

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SOURCE Society for Human Resource Management
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