On April 26, 2017, H.R. 1180, the Working Families Flexibility Act, took a step toward passage in the US Congress when it was approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The bill, sponsored by Alabama 2nd District US Representative Martha Roby, would allow private sector employers to grant paid time off to employees in lieu of overtime pay.
“As a working mom, I understand all too well the challenges that working parents face in juggling a career and managing a family,” Roby was quoted in Alabama Today. “Whether it’s coaching a child’s tee ball team or caring for an aging parent, family responsibilities often require time away from work. Congress can’t legislate another hour into the day, but we can give working parents more choices over how they use their time.”
The bill would represent a significant change to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which prohibits comp time from private employers. The FLSA has allowed the practice for government employers since 1985.
The bill would:
- Allow comp time to accrue for employees who prefer it to overtime pay. It would be allowed only if the employer chooses to offer it, and then only at the employee’s discretion.
- Allow comp time to accrue up to a maximum of 160 hours per year. Unused time would have to be paid out at the end of the year, or upon request of the employee at other times.
“The Working Families Flexibility Act would finally offer Americans working in the private sector what their peers in the public sector already enjoy: more freedom and more control over their time so they can spend it the way they choose,” Roby said in the Alabama Today article.
However, many Democrats, who spoke in opposition to the bill, disagree with the notion that the bill will benefit employees. (For more details on what Democrats and employee advocate groups have argued in opposition to the bill, see Congress Mulls Comp Time for Private Employers.)