On May 8th, 2013, the House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, a bill that provides private employers the option of offering their employees compensatory time off for overtime hours worked. This has currently been a practice used in the public sector, however; because private sector employers are held to the guidelines of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, comp time has not been an option that has been offered to private sector employees.
The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, as approved by the House, will:
- Allow employers to offer employees a choice between cash wages and accruing comp time for overtime hours worked. Employees who want to receive cash wages would continue to do so. No employee can be forced to take comp time instead of receiving overtime pay.
- 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. Where the employee is represented by a union, the agreement to take comp time must be part of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the union and the employer.
- Retain all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40 hour work week and how overtime compensation is accrued. The bill adds additional safeguards for workers to ensure the choice and use of comp time are truly voluntary.
- 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.
According to Sue Meisinger, former President and CEO of SHRM, the bill in its current form seems to be a win-win for both employers and employees. It allows another venue for employers to manage their payrolls while at the same time allowing employees to have added flexibility of their work schedules to balance both work and family needs. You can download a podcast of a discussion between Andy Brantley and Sue Meisinger about the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013. John Hollon, Vice-President for Editorial of TLNT.com stated: “why would we not want to give workers more flexibility to manage their lives the way they see fit? The Working Families Flexibility Act seems to do that.”
Unfortunately as seems to be the current working model in Washington, the bill is divided across partisan lines and some unions have spoken out against the bill. Personally, I think that this is a great bill that gives non-exempt employees more options to manage and maintain a healthy work-life balance. If you haven’t done so already, I urge you to reach out to the Senators from your home state and let them know that they should vote in favor of the bill. For those of you that live in Virginia you can contact Senator Mark Warner’s office at 202-224- 2023 and Senator Tim Kaine’s office at 202-224-4024. Non-exempt employees currently represented by a union should reach out to their union representatives and let them know that they support the bill and urge their union to support the bill through lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.