Comp Time Bill Approved by House Committee

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By Tyrone Richardson

A House committee April 26 approved a Republican bill that would let employers offer paid time off in lieu of time-and-a-half wages for overtime hours.

Members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce voted 22-16 along party lines to approve the Working Families Flexibility Act ( H.R. 1180, S. 801). The vote came as President Donald Trump’s administration has yet to publicly decide what it will do with a pending overtime rule that was expected to make some four million workers newly eligible for time-and-a-half pay.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow employers and workers to voluntarily agree to 1.5 hours of compensatory time for every hour of overtime worked, for up to 160 hours of leave. The requested time would have to be approved by the employer.

The measure would cover private sector workers. Congress in 1985 amended the FLSA to allow public sector employees to be given comp time for overtime hours worked.

The Obama administration rule to expand overtime eligibility is on hold, pending federal litigation in Texas. The rule would double the salary threshold—up to about $47,500—below which workers automatically qualify for time-and-a-half overtime pay.

Democrats: Bill Gives Employers Upper Hand

Committee Democrats April 26 criticized the comp time legislation, alleging the measure would help employers coerce workers to pass on overtime pay.

“H.R. 1180 doesn’t give employees any rights they don’t already have,” Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the committee’s ranking member said. “Most employees can already take time off without pay. The bill does, however, create a new right for employers to withhold employees’ overtime pay.”

Bill co-sponsor Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), the Workforce Protections subcommittee chairman, countered that there are safeguards to thwart employers from such actions.

GOP: Measure Adds Workplace Flexibility

Byrne described the bill as a measure to offer workplace flexibility.

“All we are trying to do is give workers a choice,” Byrne said during the hearing. “Policies written in the 1930s that are out of step with the needs of the 21st century workforce shouldn’t stand in the way of flexibility for workers and their families.”

Committee Democrats tried unsuccessfully to attach amendments to the measure, including a provision to make low-wage earners exempt from the bill.

The Senate version of the comp time bill has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Introduced April 3 by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), it could see action because of high-ranking Republican co-sponsors, including HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at trichardson@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Christopher Opfer at copfer@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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