No, the House didn’t really vote “to make it legal for employers to cheat workers out of overtime.”

Elizabeth Warren Nov 2 2012.jpg

So, I’m calling you know what on Senator Warren’s tweet last week.

Yes, the U.S. House of Representatives did greenlight a measure called the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017. This bill would allow, in certain situations, the substitution of comp time for overtime. And, if it passes through the Senate, the President is likely going to sign it.

But unlike the scare posts from other publications, which suggest that the sky will fall if the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 becomes law, I’ll explain why this law is good for employers and employees.

What is the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017?

The Act would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow private-sector workers to elect to receive paid time off or ‘comp time’ instead of cash wages as compensation for working overtime hours.

Been there, done that.

Comp-time arrangements aren’t novel. Public sector employees have enjoyed this benefit for over 30 years.

It’s voluntary.

An employee who wants comp time — up to 160 hours — instead of overtime, must do so “knowingly and voluntarily,” and, preferably, in writing. And if an employee (or employer) doesn’t want a comp-time arrangement, so be it. Employees can still be paid cash of overtime hours worked (instead of comp time).

And to anyone concerned about employers sneaking a comp-time agreement into onboarding paperwork, well, don’t be. A comp-time agreement cannot be a condition of employment. Plus, only employees who have worked at least 1,000 hours can participate in a comp-time agreement.

It only applies prospectively.

Employer and employee must reach a comp-time agreement together before overtime work is performed. Otherwise, the default rule applies and the employees gets paid time-and-a-half.

No “use it or lose it” either.

Whenever he or she wants, an employee can cash out unused comp time. And, the employee doesn’t need a reason to do it. Employers must provide cash wages at the overtime rate of time-and-a-half within 30 days of receiving an employee request. Also, by January 31 of each calendar year, the employer must cash out each employee for all accrued but unused comp time from the prior year.

No buyer’s remorse.

Whenever they want, workers can withdraw from a comp-time agreement and get paid cash wages at the overtime rate of time-and-a-half for accrued comp time within 30 days.

Employers can back out too. However, employers must provide employees 30 days’ notice of a decision to discontinue offering comp time, providing workers and their families an opportunity to adjust to this change in the workplace.

Employers that mess this up pay the [legal] price.

Nothing else in the FLSA — the overtime rules, the penalties for non-compliance, etc. — changes. Well, except when employer try to force employees into unwilling employees into a comp-time arrangement. Employers who coerce employees into choosing comp time will owe double damages. The Department of Labor is waiting in the wings to enforce. And employees can still bring private causes of action too.

What do you think about this proposed comp-time rule? Email me. Or let me know in the comments down below.

Image Credit: By Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link





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