For millions of hard-working American families, finding the right balance between work and family obligations can be extremely difficult. For nearly thirty years, most government employees have had the option to receive paid time off in lieu of overtime pay, allowing them greater flexibility to meet the needs of their family. However, current law --enacted in 1938 - prevents private sector employers from offering this same choice to their workers.
I believe that working moms and dads in the 31st District should be able to choose to spend more time with their families, as most public sector workers are already allowed to do. On Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act, which would update the outdated federal law to allow private sector workers to choose paid time off as compensation for working overtime hours.
While granting workplace flexibility is important, I also believe that no worker should be forced to take paid time off instead of receiving overtime pay. Recognizing that, H.R. 1406 requires that the choice be completely voluntary, with a written agreement establishing the arrangement between the employer and employee or, in the case of union workers, included as part of a collective bargaining agreement. Employees that wish to continue to receive overtime pay for overtime hours worked will be able to do so, and employers are prohibited from conditioning employment on this decision.
The bill also contains a number of protections to ensure that employees will be compensated for their overtime work. Employers would be required to pay cash wages to employees with unused, earned comp time at the end of the year. Should a worker who has opted to receive comp time wish to end this arrangement -- which they can do at any time - the employer must provide the equivalent amount of cash earned for the accrued comp time within 30 days.
It is long past time to update federal law to ensure that more of America's parents can access this flexible working arrangement to help them achieve a greater balance between work and family. I will continue to work to find ways to increase workplace flexibility while protecting the rights of workers.