How will passage of the overtime pay bill affect retailers and workers?

06 May, 2017, 02:45 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Working families need higher wages and guaranteed time to care, not smoke and mirrors

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would allow private employers to offer workers compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay.

The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180) was introduced February 16, by Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) and was approved April 26 by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce by a straight party line vote of 22-16.

This long-standing law could change under the new bill, known as the Working Families Flexibility Act ("the Act"). Instead, it would only apply to those employees who have worked at least 1,000 hours in a 12-month period before they agree to the employer's proposed "comp time" arrangement. 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".

However, putting aside various nuances and state law differences, it has always been the case that the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") requires private sector employers to pay non-exempt employees time-and-a-half for all work performed beyond 40 hours in a workweek. Employers who coerce employees into choosing comp time would be liable to the employees for double damages. The Working Families Flexibility Act, which the House is scheduled to vote on today, is not.

"If the comp time is dictated by the employer, this is just a ploy to take advantage of workers".

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The 79-year-old law now mandates that certain employees who work more than 40 hours per week must earn time-and-a-half compensation in their next paycheck for the extra time. For some workers, money in the bank may be the best choice for them, and nothing in the bill would take that away, but other workers would seize the opportunity for time off with their family, she said.

No Democrats supported it. 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. "It pretends to offer a benefit to employees, but in reality it's a benefit to employers who get to schedule overtime work but delay paying for it for up to 13 months".

The vote for HR 1180 broke largely along party lines with the Republican majority in support and the Democrats opposing.

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.

Republican Alabama Representative Martha Roby recently introduced act, which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Yesterday, the White House said the bill had the support of President Trump.

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