The bill's opponents say upending the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime pay rule - requiring time-and-a-half pay for eligible workers' hours over a 40-hour workweek - will make longer work hours cheaper for employers, reduce take-home pay and limit the workers' "flexibility" it purports to grant.
The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180) was introduced February 16, by Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) and was approved April 26 by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce by a straight party line vote of 22-16.
While Republicans lauded the legislation as a way to give more flexibility to employees, Democrats and labor groups slammed it, arguing that because the measure gives employers the final say on when the time off is used, they can essentially delay workers' overtime compensation. They emphasized that the decision to take comp time is up to workers.
Changes may be coming for the millions of American workers who receive overtime pay. The measure allows employees to accrue up to 160 hours of paid time off in a 12-month period, in lieu of overtime wages, at a rate of at least one and one-half hours for each hour of overtime worked.
The real-world glitch is that the power to grant the comp time rests with the employer. Employers would have to allow workers to use their time off within a "reasonable period" after making a request but could deny the request if it would "unduly disrupt" operations.
"This bill will allow small businesses to give hourly employees another option that public sector employees have enjoyed for many years", said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot of Cincinnati.
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Leading Democrats strongly oppose the bill.
On May 2, the US House of Representatives approved the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180).
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would the passage of a legislation similar to HR 1180 in both Houses of Congress be good for retail industry employers and workers? 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.
Congressional Republicans have pitched similar measures a number of times over the past two decades but have been unable to get the rule on the books. With only a slim Republican majority in the Senate and the reality that the bill may face some bipartisan opposition, the potential for defeat or a Democratic filibuster is significant.
The bill has been supported by the Trump administration, which put out a press release saying President Trump would likely sign it into law if the bill passes as now written.