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Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. I want to recognize and express appreciation to the chairman of the committee and the author of the legislation, Mrs. Roby, for their tremendous leadership on this important issue.
I'm proud to rise in support of the Working Families Flexibility Act because it is time for our labor laws to enter the 21st century, just like our workforce has.
I support this legislation because it is time for those in the private sector to have the same freedom and flexibility that those in the public sector have had for years. As a mom, a working mom, I have two young kids--Cole is six and Grace is two. I understand firsthand how important it is to have the flexibility to meet the demands of your job and still the obligation of your family. And I am so grateful, like millions of working moms in this country, that I do have flexibility. It's not easy, that's for sure, but the current law makes it way too hard for many hardworking moms and dads in this country.
The workplace today is not the workplace of the 1930s, when many of these laws and regulations were first written. In fact, the most significant economic and sociological change in our society in the last half century has been the entry of women into the workforce.
Today, 75 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 55 are in the workforce, and we've seen a significant growth in the number of working moms. In fact, today, 60 percent of moms with children under 6 are in the labor force. The workforce has changed, and it's time for the laws to change with it.
Most of our labor laws and regulations were drafted in the 1930s, at a time when most households had a single income. For too long, Federal laws and regulations have lagged behind, and it's time we bring them into the 21st century. This legislation does just that. It amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow the private sector to provide time off instead of overtime compensation if that's what the employee prefers.
Labor laws--written years ago--require that full-time hourly workers be paid time and a half if they work longer than 40 hours a week. For the most part, hourly employees who want to take occasional time away from their jobs either must take annual leave or leave without pay. These rules are particularly outdated given that we live in a world where people no longer need to be chained to their desk for precisely 8 hours a day, especially in light of cell phones and Internet connections, mobile offices and part-time work.
Current law doesn't provide any workplace flexibility for those in the private sector. This legislation changes that. It gives private sector employees the same choice as those in the public sector, while getting the Federal Government out of the way and putting decisions in the hands of people rather than Washington bureaucrats. That's why we must pass this law. It promotes freedom and choice, and it makes life easier for Americans all across this country.
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