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Is Congress Trying To Take Away Overtime Pay?

Maybe, although that’s not the stated intent behind a bill that would allow employers to ‘pay’ workers with comp time – or additional paid time off – for hours that are now required to be paid at an overtime rate of time-and-a-half. The bill recently passed the House by a fairly narrow margin of only 19 votes.

The bill currently does not require employees to accept comp time in lieu of overtime pay rates, but does offer the choice of accruing additional time off rather than a higher hourly payout. An employee would have to affirmatively choose comp time rather than overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 hours in a week and could change the agreement at a later date if he or she chose to do so.

The bill is called the Working Families Flexibility Act and would bring private sector workers more closely in line with public sector workers who already have the option to accrue comp time rather than receive overtime pay. Supporters of the bill assert that it will give working families more available time for necessary work absences, such as when a child gets sick and must stay home from school or daycare.

Opponents of the view take a less starry-eyed view of the potential change in overtime pay requirements. House Whip Steny Hoyer explained that the bill is a roundabout way of getting out of paying the hourly premium required for overtime work. When given the choice between offering overtime to a worker who will accept comp time as payment versus a worker who still wants to receive overtime pay, Hoyer noted that most businesses will choose the person who will work for “free,” or, in other words, in exchange for comp time.

Source: Times Dispatch, “House passes Cantor-backed measure on comp time,” May 9, 2013

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