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House Passes Bill Allowing Overtime Pay Swap

Tuesday afternoon, the House of Representatives passed a bill allowing employers to offer additional time off in lieu of overtime pay for employees who opt in. The Working Families Flexibility Act was backed by Republicans and passed 229 to 197.
House of Representatives
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Supporters say that this legislation would allow workers more flexibility, especially low-wage earners who don’t otherwise have access to paid time off.

“Ask any parent just how precious their time is,” said Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), who sponsored the bill. She said that the measure, “provides flexibility for working moms and dads who need more time to spend taking care of their family responsibilities.”

However, critics argue that it will undermine the Fair Labor Standards Act and lead to situations in which workers are pressured to take PTO instead of time-and-a-half pay.

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How This Bill Could Backfire for Workers

“Though the bill includes language that bans employers from ‘directly or indirectly intimidating, threatening, or coercing or attempting to intimidate, threaten, or coerce an employee’ to choose comp time over pay, many Democrats and advocates for workers say they are concerned that people will feel pressure to opt for the comp time and may not have the resources to seek legal help if they are coerced,” wrote Jena McGregor at The Washington Post.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called the bill “a disgrace.”

CNN Money noted that similar bills have passed the House, only to die in the Senate, including one as recently as 2013. It’s unclear whether this bill will make it through.

Even if it does, you might remain unaffected. Employers would have to decide to offer this option – which means investing in the planning necessary to pull it off. Some may opt for the system they have, for no other reason than it’s already in place.

“There’s the tracking of hours, and they carry the liability on their balance sheet in case there’s a cash-out. Some employers are just like ‘I would rather pay the straight option,'” Lisa Horn, director of Congressional affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management, told The Washington Post.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think a bill like this would give you greater flexibility, or lead to the loss of overtime? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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