The U.S. House of Representatives today approved the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1406), legislation that will help more Americans balance the needs of family and work. Sponsored by Representative Martha Roby (R-AL), this commonsense proposal would allow private-sector employers to offer employees the opportunity to accrue paid time off or "comp time' for working overtime hours.
"No worker should be denied time with family because of some outdated federal law," said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). "Workers in the private-sector deserve the same choice and flexibility enjoyed for decades in the public-sector. This legislation won't address all the challenges Americans face, but it will help make life a little easier for those struggling to balance the demands of family and work. I urge our Senate colleagues to join this effort and help send this commonsense proposal to the president's desk."
"I am proud to champion the Working Families Flexibility Act on behalf of working moms and dads across the country," said Rep. Roby. "Our message to the American people is this: We want to get Washington out of the way of how you use your time. Talk to just about any working mom and dad and they'll tell you they need more time. They need just one more hour in the day to be able to take care of responsibilities and make life work. We can't legislate another hour in the day, but we can help working Americans better balance their time by removing unnecessary federal restrictions on comp time in the private sector."
"In order to have a healthy economy, we need to remove barriers that deny parents flexibility that fosters success at home and work," said Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI). "By giving working families and employers the voluntary flexibility to rearrange work schedules, we are letting them do what is best for their family. We're giving them the freedom to take a sick child to the doctor, spend time with family, or collect overtime wages."
As approved by the House, H.R. 1406 will:
Allow employers to offer employees a choice between cash wages and accruing 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.
Protect 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.
Retain all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40 hour work week 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.
Allow 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.
Require the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to report to Congress on the extent private-sector employers and employees are using comp time, as well as the number of complaints filed with and enforcement actions taken by the U.S. Department of Labor (Amendment offered by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) adopted by vote of 384-42)