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House Passes Bill to Empower More Americans to Balance Work, Life, and Family

The House today passed the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180) to reform outdated federal labor rules and extend workplace flexibility to more Americans.

The House today passed the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180) to reform outdated federal labor rules and extend workplace flexibility to more Americans. Introduced by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), the legislation would allow private-sector employers to offer employees eligible for overtime pay a choice between paid time off and cash wages. The bill includes strong protections to ensure the decision to choose comp time is voluntary. The bill passed by a vote of 229 to 197.

“The workforce has changed tremendously over the years, but our laws and policies that govern the workplace haven’t kept up,” Rep. Roby said. “Today’s working parents need more time flexibility to balance the demands of work and family. I’ve always said Congress cannot legislate another hour into the day, but we can update our laws to allow more choice and fairness in how working Americans use their time. I appreciate my colleagues in the House for approving the Working Families Flexibility Act and getting us one step closer to enacting this commonsense idea.”

“This bill is about freedom, flexibility, and fairness for America’s workers," said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. "Government employees have long been able to choose what’s best for themselves and their families. There’s no reason outdated federal rules should deny private-sector workers the same freedom and flexibility. I want to thank Representative Martha Roby for leading the effort to eliminate this unfair double standard. The Working Families Flexibility Act will provide strong protections for workers and empower more Americans to better balance work, life, and family.” 

“By passing the Working Families Flexibility Act, we have taken an important step toward bringing our workforce laws into the 21st Century,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), chairman of the subcommittee on Workforce Protections. “Working families today face a wide range of challenges and demands, and they deserve the same freedoms and choices that workers in the public sector already have. I thank Representative Roby for introducing this commonsense piece of legislation, and I applaud my colleagues for lending their support to this pro-worker bill.”

BACKGROUND: The American workforce has transformed dramatically over the years and the needs of workers in the 21st century have changed as well. Americans are demanding more flexibility in the workplace. In fact, 85 percent of employees say workplace flexibility is important when considering a new job. Unfortunately, an outdated federal law has become a barrier to workers who want more freedom to balance work and personal obligations.

To modernize the law and better meet the needs of the 21st century workforce, Rep. Roby introduced the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180). This pro-family, pro-worker proposal includes reforms to:
  • Allow employers to offer employees a choice between cash wages and accruing comp time for overtime hours worked. No employee can be forced to take comp time.

  • Protect employees by requiring the employer and the employee to complete a written agreement to use comp time, entered into knowingly and voluntarily by the employee.

  • Retain all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40-hour workweek and how overtime compensation is accrued.

  • Allow employees to accrue up to 160 hours of comp time each year. An employer would be required to pay cash wages for any unused time at the end of the year. Workers are free to ‘cash out’ their accrued comp time whenever they choose to do so.

  • Prohibit employers from intimidating, coercing, or forcing employees to accept comp time instead of cash wages. Those in violation of the law would be liable to the employees for double damages.

  • Require the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to report to Congress on the extent private-sector employers and employees are using comp time, as well as the number of complaints filed with and enforcement actions taken by the U.S. Department of Labor.

To read a fact sheet on the bill, click here.

For information on the bill’s worker protections, click here.

For a copy of the bill, click here.

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