Jaime Herrera Beutler announced today that she had put her support behind the "Working Families Flexibility Act" -- a legislative solution that gives workers in the private sector more choices when they need time off to spend with their families. Jaime cosponsored this legislation last Thursday.
Currently employees working in the public sector who exceed a 40 hour work week are able to make a choice between paid time off or overtime pay. However, private sector employees are prohibited by federal law from making this same choice -- as of now, private sector employees must choose overtime. Parents working in the private sector who want to attend a child's soccer game or music recital, and would prefer flex time to overtime, currently don't have that option.
This bill would expand choices for families struggling to balance demanding schedules. The flex time option would be completely voluntary for employers to offer, and for employees to use.
"My goal here is to give working moms and dads more choices. This family-centered bill would allow employees to decide how to manage more of their time, whether that's being with their child or an aging relative, or tending to personal responsibilities outside of work," said Jaime. "It's important to me that this bill protects workers' rights to choose what's best for them. We should update an outdated law to meet employees where they're at today, and in doing so we'll encourage a more productive workforce and a better work-life balance."
The "Working Families Flexibility Act" received a hearing in the House Education and Workforce Committee's Workforce Protection Subcommittee last week, and is expected to receive full committee approval in the coming weeks.
What this bill does:
-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. It updates the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which prohibits private sector employers from offering their employees the choice of accruing time off for working overtime hours.
-Workers are free to "cash out' their accrued comp time whenever they choose to do so. The comp time option is completely voluntary.
-The legislation retains all existing employee protections in current law, and adds additional safeguards to ensure workers remain in control of their overtime compensation.
-It requires a written agreement between the employer and employee, voluntarily and knowingly entered into by the employee. An employer is forbidden by law from making the comp time agreement a condition of employment.
-Employees represented by union would need the comp time agreement to be settled on through collective bargaining between a union and employer.
-Neither the method for calculating overtime, nor the employees right to receive cash wages for overtime work, are altered.
-Compensatory time off accrues at the same rate as overtime, 1.5 hours for each hour of overtime worked.
-Employees could accrue up to 160 hours of compensatory time each year. An employer would be required to pay cash wages for any unused, accrued time at the end of the year.