Thursday, April 4, 2013

GOP Pitches ‘Family-Friendly’ Policy That Would Weaken Overtime Pay

House Republicans are planning to consider legislation that would weaken rules requiring businesses to pay their employees overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Instead of allowing workers to make increased wages for working longer, the legislation would give employers the option of providing employees with “comp time,” or more time off from work.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has floated the plan in the past, and now Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) is planning to introduce the bill into Congress, the Huffington Post’s Dave Jamieson reports:

Cast by Republicans as a reform toward workplace flexibility, the proposal would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, a bedrock labor law of the New Deal era, to ostensibly give workers more options in how to use their accrued overtime. [...]  
On Tuesday, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) told USA Today that she plans to introduce such a bill next week, saying it could “provide some relief in this economy to working families.” The language of the bill is not public yet.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) currently requires employers to pay overtime for wage-earners who work more than 40-hours, giving employers little control over how to compensate those workers except for managing their hours in a way that prevents excess work. Unions and labor advocates argue that that the GOP-backed amendment would give employers more control over how workers are compensated for overtime work, since they would likely have to approve taking time off under comp time.

Past versions of the legislation, as Jamieson noted, banned employers from encouraging workers to take comp time instead of overtime pay. But that wasn’t enough for unions. “The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has marked up a comp time bill that is about more flexibility for employers — not for employees,” the AFL-CIO wrote of the 1997 version. “Employers will be able to discriminate against employees who want overtime pay and employers would control when employees could use the comp time. This bill is not family friendly.”

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