Workplace

Overtime pay or comp time choice proposed

Updated: 2013-04-11T16:12:50Z

By DIANE STAFFORD

The Kansas City Star

Republicans in the U.S. House this week introduced legislation that would alter part of the overtime pay rules in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Worker advocacy organizations quickly opposed the bill, which would allow certain private-sector employees to receive compensatory time off and bank up to 160 hours of accrued comp time a year instead of getting the currently required time-and-a-half overtime pay for the week in which the overtime hours were worked.

The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 reincarnates a proposal that has been introduced several times since 1997. Previous versions – under such names as the Work and Family Integration Act, the Family Friendly Workplace Act, the Family Time Flexibility Act and the Family Time and Workplace Flexibility Act – have failed to become law.

Rep. Martha Roby, an Alabama Republican and lead sponsor of the new bill, said the federal government shouldn’t stand in the way of workers who prefer comp time in order to take care of personal responsibilities.

The concept is backed by the Society for Human Resource Management and other employer groups.

“H.R. 1406 would give private-sector nonexempt employees more control by giving them the option of paid time off in lieu of cash wages for overtime hours worked,” said Juanita Phillips, a society representative who testified Thursday before a House subcommittee.

Judith Lichtman, representing the National Partnership for Women & Families, testified in opposition.

Even if overtime-eligible employees agree to accept comp time instead of overtime pay, Lichtman said, the bill gives employers too much power over when that comp time might be taken.

“H.R. 1406’s brand of comp time is designed to benefit employers only,” Lichtman said. “It does not offer any of the protections workers need.”

Language in the bill gives employers a “reasonable period” after an employee requests comp time to allow the employee to take the time off.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com.

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