ICYMI: Making Life Work
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 2013
The House will soon consider the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1406). Sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), the legislation will help Americans balance family and work by allowing private-sector workers to choose paid time off or ‘comp time’ in lieu of cash wages for working overtime hours.
The Working Families Flexibility Act is merely a tool to provide workers with new alternatives to make their lives better and give them the power to determine the work schedules that will most benefit their hectic lives. Furthermore, all existing enforcement remedies -- including action by the U.S. Department of Labor -- are available to workers if an employer fails to pay cash wages for overtime hours or unreasonably refuses to allow workers to use accrued comp time.
The third -- and perhaps most egregious -- myth circulating is that the bill is a pay cut for workers without any attendant guarantee of time off. The decision to receive comp time is completely voluntary and no worker can be intimidated or forced to accept comp time instead of cash wages. All protections and standards have been put in place for the benefit of the employee, and their rights to negotiate different compensation options as they wish. This is not about mandates; it's about flexibility.
The key to all of this is flexibility. All that this legislation will do is provide businesses and their employees with the freedom to manage their time under their own mutual agreements. What we are doing is providing options, and in no way does this legislation deny workers the income and extra pay that they have earned in accordance with the existing protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In 1985, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, and Steny Hoyer supported giving public-sector employees the flexibility to choose comp time, and the opportunity for these workers to choose it has been the standard ever since. Now, nearly 30 years later, this legislation would provide the same freedom to private-sector employees.
We all have extremely busy lives. The choices we face often pull at our heartstrings and cause us to wonder whether that extra meeting at the end of the day was more important than a ballet recital or doctor's appointment. By passing this legislation, this will be one less barrier.
Mrs. Ellmers is serving her second term as U.S. Congresswoman representing North Carolina's second district in the House of Representatives. She currently serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is Chairman of the Republican Women's Policy Committee.
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