The House will consider today the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1406). Sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), this commonsense proposal will help Americans balance family and work by allowing private-sector workers to choose to accrue paid time off or ‘comp time’ for working overtime hours. Opponents of H.R. 1406 are spreading false claims about the bill in an effort to defeat this pro-worker, pro-family legislation. However, a quick look at the facts helps set the record straight:
Myth: H.R. 1406 will result in employees working longer hours for less pay. Fact: The Working Families Flexibility Act safeguards workers’ time and wages.
Receiving paid time off or ’comp time’ for working overtime hours is completely voluntary. An employee who prefers to receive cash payment for overtime hours worked is always free to do so.
H.R. 1406 requires the employer and employee to complete a written comp time agreement. An employee can withdraw from this agreement at any time and receive his or her accrued comp time in cash wages.
Comp time is accrued at the same rate as overtime cash wages. Employees who work more than 40 hours a week will accrue paid time off at a rate of one and one-half hours for each overtime hour worked.
Workers can cash out their accrued comp time whenever they choose and receive the equivalent in cash wages. Employers are required to provide cash wages within 30 days of receiving an employee request.
Myth: H.R. 1406 will allow employers to control when workers use their comp time. Fact: The Working Families Flexibility Act protects employees’ use of the comp time they’ve earned.
The Working Families Flexibility Act allows workers to use their comp time whenever they choose as long as they provide reasonable notice and the leave will not ‘unduly disrupt’ business operations.
The ‘unduly disrupt’ provision included in H.R. 1406 is the same standard used today for public employees receiving comp time, which has worked well for nearly 30 years.
All existing enforcement remedies – including action by the U.S. Department of Labor – are available if a worker believes he or she has been unfairly treated.
The Working Families Flexibility Act will promote greater workplace flexibility for employees while protecting the business needs of employers.
Myth: This bill is unnecessary because current law already allows for workplace flexibility. Fact: The Working Families Flexibility Act empowers workers with more options.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, private-sector employees may only use paid time off during the same pay period in which it is accrued. Paid time off cannot be saved by the employee for future use outside the pay period. For example, a private-sector employee cannot work overtime hours in April in hopes of saving up paid time off for a family vacation in August.
The law currently allows a public-sector employee to accrue comp time to be used at the employee’s discretion so long as reasonable notice is given and the leave does not unduly disrupt the workplace.
H.R. 1406 provides private-sector employees with comp time benefits similar to those of public employees.
Myth: H.R. 1406 will allow employers to force workers to take comp time instead of overtime pay. Fact: The Working Families Flexibility Act prohibits worker coercion.
The decision to use comp time is completely voluntary. An employee who prefers to receive cash payment for overtime hours worked is always free to do so.
H.R. 1406 explicitly prohibits an employer from “directly or indirectly intimidating, threatening, or coercing or attempting to intimidate, threaten, or coerce an employee” into taking or not taking comp time.
An employer who violates these anti-coercion provisions will be liable to the affected employee for ‘double damages,’ which includes both the amount of comp time owed and an equal amount in cash wages.
In addition to new provisions prohibiting coercion, H.R. 1406 ensures 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 worked.
For more information about the Working Families Flexibility Act visit /yourtime