WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 8, 2013 -
Today we have an opportunity to make life a little easier for working families across the country. This legislation doesn’t create a new government program or bureaucracy; it doesn’t spend taxpayer dollars or add to the national debt. The Working Families Flexibility Act simply removes an outdated federal policy that denies private-sector workers the flexibility they need to better balance family and work.
For 75 years, the Fair Labor Standards Act
has provided covered workers with basic wage and hour protections. Those covered by the law receive time-and-a-half in paid compensation for each overtime hour worked. The law plays a significant role in millions of workplaces, yet it does not reflect the realities of the modern workforce.
For example, in 2011, 59 percent of families with children had two working parents compared to 37 percent 40 years ago. Meanwhile, 8.5 million workers are single parents and one in three undergraduate students also works full-time.
Behind each statistic are men and women trying to juggle family and work; a single working mom that needs extra time to attend a parent-teacher conference; a dad hoping to leave work early to catch a son’s little league game; a married couple working two jobs while raising a family and caring for an aging relative.
Supporting a family is about more than providing an income - it’s about being there for one another. We know there are a lot of workers who would seize the opportunity to earn a few extra dollars. But others may welcome additional paid time off to spend with loved ones. Shouldn’t workers choose what’s best for their families?
Unfortunately, federal law denies many private-sector workers this fundamental choice. The law assumes everyone would choose more money in the bank over more time with family. To add insult to injury, public-sector employees have enjoyed this benefit for decades yet we continue to treat those in the private-sector differently.
That’s not fair to millions of hardworking Americans. The Working Families Flexibility Act will remove this unnecessary barrier and allow private-sector employers to offer employees the choice to accrue paid time off or ‘comp time’ for working overtime. The bill does not change the 40-hour work week and comp time would accrue at the same time-and-a-half rate as cash wages.
The legislation includes numerous protections to ensure the use of comp time is strictly voluntary, such as requiring a written agreement between the employer and employee, allowing workers to cash out their accrued comp time whenever they choose, retaining all enforcement remedies available under current law, and adding new protections to prevent coercion and intimidation.
At the heart of the legislation is worker choice. Workers choose whether to accept comp time; workers choose when to cash out their accrued comp time; and workers choose when to use their paid time off so long as they follow the same standard public-sector employees do.
Americans sacrifice a lot to provide for their families. Let’s get the federal government out of the way and give workers the flexibility they need to thrive at home and at work. I urge my colleagues to support the Working Families Flexibility Act and reserve the balance of my time.
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