Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives in passing legislation that allows private sector employers and employees to establish agreements that provide for compensatory time off in lieu of monetary overtime compensation. H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 passes the house with a final vote of 223-204.
"It can be very difficult to balance the needs of family and work," said Simpson. "H.R. 1406 offers individuals an opportunity to meet family obligations by choosing paid time off as compensation rather than overtime hours. This is a decision that should be made between employers and employees; the federal government should not be an impediment to those who seek flexibility."
Specifically H.R. 1406:
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 work week and how overtime compensation is accrued - at 1.5 hours earned for each hour worked. 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.
"The bottom line is I cosponsored and voted for this bill because it provides more flexibility for workers to use their earned overtime however they choose without losing the option to continue receiving it as the always have," added Simpson. "It also protects employers, many of whom want to offer this to their employees but currently cannot because it is not allowed by law. Employers know that providing options to their employees who are working parents, pregnant, or who are seeking a college or advanced degree, is good for moral and good for business."
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.