WASHINGTON, D.C. | April 11, 2013 -
The Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), today held a legislative hearing on the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1406). Introduced by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), the bill would allow private-sector employers to offer workers the choice of paid time off or ‘comp time’ for working overtime hours. Members discussed how the commonsense legislation would help more Americans meet the demands of family and the workplace.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 requires covered employees to receive an overtime rate of “time-and-a-half” for hours worked over 40 within a work week. The law mandates overtime compensation for private-sector workers in the form of cash wages and prohibits these workers from choosing paid time off instead.
“Today's workplaces are a lot different than they were just a generation ago,” said Rep. Walberg. “Technology continues to alter the way goods and services reach consumers and cultural changes have transformed the nature of America’s workforce. As a result, it has become more difficult for many parents to balance family and work - but that's only one part of the American story. Each worker faces a unique set of challenges and responsibilities. Choice and flexibility will help workers meet the demands of their jobs and attend to the needs of their families.”
“We can’t legislate another hour in the day,” added Rep. Roby. “But we can help working people better balance the demands of family and work by removing an unnecessary federal restriction on utilizing comp time in the private sector. The Working Families Flexibility Act does not change the 40 hour work week or how overtime pay is calculated. Those standards remain the same. However, for some workers, having extra paid time off is actually more valuable than money. And, if that’s the case, why should Washington stand in the way?”
Preventing private-sector workers from receiving comp time has real-life consequences. Karen DeLoach, a bookkeeper from Montgomery, Alabama, explained she would welcome the choice of paid time off to help care for a niece with special needs and participate in church mission trips. Speaking of her employer, Ms. DeLoach said, “They are a great establishment to work for and are willing to be flexible about my time, but only as flexible as the law allows.”
Ms. DeLoach continued, “Right now, committee members, you have the ability to empower families across the nation with the freedom of choice. You could afford me the freedom to choose to use my overtime as leave time, while my coworker can still choose overtime pay.”
Even though workers like Ms. DeLoach cannot receive comp time, workers in the public-sector have enjoyed this benefit for almost thirty years. Andy Brantley, president and CEO of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, has witnessed public employees use comp time and the disappointment of private-sector workers who can’t.
As Mr. Brantley stated, “Having worked for both a public and a private university in human resources and as the president of an association representing HR in higher education, I believe employees at private universities should be afforded the same flexibility that their public sector counterparts enjoy to help meet their own work-family needs by allowing all employees the opportunity to have the choice between compensatory time and overtime pay.”
Juanita Phillips, Director of Human Resources for Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation in Huntsville, Alabama, echoed Mr. Brantley’s sentiments. “Since comp time has worked well within the public sector at the state and federal level for nearly three decades, it is troubling that Congress has not extended this same benefit to hardworking private-sector employees who contribute equally to the nation’s workforce and economy,” Ms. Phillips said. “Mr. Chairman, the time has come for Congress to approve legislation to give private-sector non-exempt employees the opportunity to choose for themselves whether to receive cash wages or paid time off for working overtime.”
“We don’t believe this is a perfect solution to the challenges facing working families,” concluded Rep. Roby. “Will it allow every individual to balance family and work? Probably not. However, the Working Families Flexibility Act is simply one step we can take to help families thrive in today’s economy.”
To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of today’s hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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