WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSFA) - Congress is moving forward with a plan to give hourly workers more flexibility with their overtime. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act, which allows workers to choose between overtime pay and paid time off.
It's a plan sponsored by Representative Martha Roby, R- AL.
"Right now government employees can utilize compensatory time, that's paid time off in lieu of overtime pay. So they can accrue overtime, and use that time later as paid leave," Roby explained. "You can't do that in the private sector. Currently, it's against the law."
Roby's bill is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to her, it removes a federal restriction on the use of comp time in the private sector.
"It's voluntary. This is not another government mandate, not more red tape applied to businesses by the government. It's completely voluntary and guess who's in the driver's seat? The employee. It's up to the employee to determine whether or not they want their overtime pay or they want to accrue their overtime to use later as paid leave," said Roby. "This is about moms and dads that want to coach a soccer game, or have responsibilities to take care of an aging parent, and want to be able to make the same decision that government employees already can."
The bill passed the House right along party lines. No democrats voted for it, and six republicans voted against it. Opponents argue the bill actually gives employers the final say on when comp time can be used, and that the Fair Labor Standards Act already allows for these kinds of agreements between workers and their bosses.
"That's actually not true," Roby responded. "It's only within that pay period, so this amendment allows for that employee to accrue the overtime to be used at a later date. Also, the employee has the final say, not the employer, and there are very specific cash out provisions. So let's say an employee has chosen to accrue overtime to use as compensatory time and then decides 'you know what, I'd rather have the cash'. Well, the employee can do that, there is cash out provisions in this bill. When the employee goes to the employer and says, 'I don't want the compensatory time, I want the cash,' the employer has to honor that within 30 days."
"This is about freedom and flexibility for hard working families that value their time and would rather have that paid leave than the cash payments for overtime."
The Working Families Flexibility Act now goes to the Senate for approval. The White House has said the President will sign it.