House Passes Comp Time Bill

The House just passed a bill that affects overtime pay	 	 	 			Getty Images

While Republicans lauded the legislation as a way to give more flexibility to employees, Democrats and labor groups slammed it, arguing that because the measure gives employers the final say on when the time off is used, they can essentially delay workers' overtime compensation. "Unfortunately, today's labor laws make it harder to offer this flexibility". Their agreement would have to be voluntary, and they would reserve the right to revoke their agreement at any time and receive cash for their unused "comp time".

Opponents said passage of the legislation may also create a situation in which employers choose employees to work overtime based on their preference for taking time off rather than being paid at the overtime rate.

"Comp time" - short for "compensatory time" is generally defined as paid time off that is earned and accrued by an employee instead of immediate cash payment for working overtime hours. However, employers may be able to deny certain requests to use compensatory time if the employee's chosen period of time off would unduly disrupt operations. Under the bill, employers could withhold overtime pay for a long time, which otherwise would be a violation of the FLSA, and it undermines the 40 hours workweek mechanism, he said.

While public sector employees have had this option for three decades, it is still not allowed under current law in the private sector.

The House has passed similar bills before but they have always died in the Senate, which means H.R. 1180 carries some baggage, Fortney said.




So the need for Congress to act - to advance policies that will make our workplaces more fair and family friendly for all workers, no matter where they live and what jobs they hold - is urgent.

The bill dubbed the "Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017" passed by a 229 to 197 margin, without a single vote from Democrats. But most policy advances have been at the state and local levels, and the private sector progress, while impressive, still leaves tens of millions of workers behind.

The bill "would help American workers balance the competing demands of family and work by giving them flexibility to earn paid time off-time they can later use for any reason, including family commitments like attending school appointments and caring for a sick child", the White House said in a statement. It's possible that the Senate could pass the bill, Fortney added, but if the Senate votes in a similar manner, the measure could face a filibuster there. The administration also said it believes the bill contains satisfactory protections to ensure that employers won't coerce workers into accepting comp time instead of pay.

This makes for an uphill battle in the Senate, even though the White House has come out in support of the measure.

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