Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) has introduced the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2015, H.R. 465. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S. 233. The legislation would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to allow employers to offer private-sector employees the choice of paid time off in lieu of cash wages for overtime hours worked.
Specifically, the bill:
- Allows employers to offer employees a choice between cash wages and comp time for overtime hours worked. Employees who want to receive cash wages would continue to do so. No employee can be forced to take comp time instead of receiving overtime pay.
- Protects employees by requiring the employer and the employee to complete a written agreement to use comp time, entered into knowingly and voluntarily by the employee. Where the employee is represented by a union, the agreement to take comp time must be part of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the union and the employer.
- Retains all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40-hour workweek and how overtime compensation is accrued. The bill adds additional safeguards for workers to ensure the choice and use of comp time are truly voluntary.
- Allows employees to accrue up to 160 hours of comp time each year. An employer would be required to pay cash wages for any unused time at the end of the year. Workers are free to ‘cash out’ their accrued comp time whenever they choose to do so.
TIA has always thought this was a great idea. TIA began to support this in the mid 1990’s with then Representative Cass Ballenger (R-NC). The bill passed the House but we failed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. TIA gave it another good run in 2003 but came up short.
TIA thought then and still do now that in the modern workplace this should be an option. Granted, the recent economic times made it difficult for employees to forego any extra compensation, but families today have other demands and needs too.
TIA continues to look for bipartisan support on this issue.