Do you work overtime? Here's what you need to know

Posted May 06, 2017

A bill called the Working Families Flexibility Act, backed by G.O.P. leadership, just passed the House on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate.

Although its title does not reference the FLSA or overtime, the Act would amend the FLSA to allow private sector employers to offer non-exempt employees the choice between being paid in cash for hours they work beyond 40 in a work week or accruing an hour and one-half of paid time off.

Q: Would employers be required to offer their employees compensatory time instead of overtime pay? The practice would only be allowable if the employee and employer entered into an agreement-before the performance of the overtime work-in which the employer has offered and the employee has chosen to receive "comp time" in lieu of overtime pay.

Opponents said passage of the legislation may also create a situation in which employers choose employees to work overtime based on their preference for taking time off rather than being paid at the overtime rate. Those opting for monetary compensation for overtime would have to put the request in writing, and employers would have to provide payment within 30 days of receiving the request.

The bill dubbed the "Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017" passed by a 229 to 197 margin, without a single vote from Democrats.

The real-world glitch is that the power to grant the comp time rests with the employer.

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Most of his employees accumulate substantial overtime during the busy spring and summer season, then work very short hours in late fall and winter.

But Democrats stand in strong opposition.

Democrats and worker advocates, however, say it merely amounts to an interest-free loan for employers and includes no guarantee that employees can take time off when they want. Even though this bill isn't yet law, it would be wise for employers to track its progress because it could significantly alter the way employers may choose to handle overtime compensation for nonexempt employees.

The bill "would help American workers balance the competing demands of family and work by giving them flexibility to earn paid time off-time they can later use for any reason, including family commitments like attending school appointments and caring for a sick child", the White House said in a statement. The administration also said it believes the bill contains satisfactory protections to ensure that employers won't coerce workers into accepting comp time instead of pay.

An employee can not accrue not more than 160 hours of "comp time".

Under current Senate rules, the bill would need 60 votes to pass. Republicans have 52 seats, so they would need Democratic support for the measure, unless they change Senate rules.

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