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Latta votes for overtime flexibility bill

06 May 2017

The measure would let employers offer workers paid time off instead of time-and-a-half pay when they put in overtime.

The current bill, if it should become law, would affect only workers who are eligible for overtime pay, an increasingly smaller segment of the US workforce. But opponents say it would stomp on overtime pay rights granted under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act - and won't benefit workers in reality.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act allowing workers to opt for comp time instead of pay.

This long-standing law could change under the new bill, known as the Working Families Flexibility Act ("the Act"). The paid time off option would only be available if an employer agrees, and the employee is free to change their mind at any time and receive cash compensation.

A written agreement is required between the employer and the employee and it can not be used as a condition of employment.

"It will hurt employees", said Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer, saying they could "work more and get less".

Many states have their own overtime rules.

Accrued comp time may be used "within a reasonable period after making the request if the use of the compensatory time does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer", the measure said.

An employee who has agreed to receive "comp time" can withdraw the agreement at any time.

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"If the comp time is dictated by the employer, this is just a ploy to take advantage of workers". "The employer has to honor that within 30 days", she said.

Q: What happens at an employee's termination?

Except where a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise, an employer that has adopted a policy offering "comp time" to employees can discontinue the policy on 30 days' notice.

Q: Which employees would be covered by the bill?

The current Fair Labor Standards Act mandates employers pay hourly workers time-and-a-half, or 1.5 times their usual hourly rate if they work more than 40 hours within a week.

As written, the Act would not apply to all employees.

Beyond this, it is unclear whether a "comp time" arrangement under the bill would satisfy state overtime requirements. If not, the bill is of limited utility to employers.

It is unclear whether the bill-which contains a sunset provision under which the law would expire within five years of enactment-will pass the Senate. The bill's chances of passing the Senate appear uncertain at best: It will need to garner votes from at least 8 Democrats as well as all 52 Republican senators in order to avoid a filibuster and make it to the desk of President Trump, who's indicated he will sign it.

Latta votes for overtime flexibility bill