H.R. 1406, also known as the Working Families Flexibility Act, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives recently by a vote of 223-204. If enacted, the bill would amend a 75-year-old law, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), to allow private sector employees earning hourly wages, the option to take comp-time instead of time-and-a-half overtime pay. This is an option afforded to public sector employees after a 1985 amendment to the FLSA. Republicans and Democrats are divided, however, about whether it will help working families or cause them to miss out on valuable over-time pay. Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.) sponsored the bill and applauded its passage. She says the bill will “help working Americans better balance their time by removing unnecessary federal restrictions on comp-time in the private sector.” An employee would be eligible after working 1,000 hours continuously for his or her employer in the one-year period before entering into the agreement. The employee cannot accrue more than 160 hours of comp time and will lose the right to earn over-time pay for each hour of time taken off from work. If the comp time afforded is not taken by the employee, the employer must provide monetary compensation for the hours worked. If the employee chooses to withdraw from the agreement, under the act, the employer must provide compensation within 30 days. Additionally, the bill provides safeguards against employer intimidation regarding an employee’s desire to request compensatory time off and against an employer requiring a worker to request time off instead of receiving pay. The House Minority Whip, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), staunchly opposes this legislation. He claims that employees who need the over-time pay will miss out because employers will first go to the employees who can afford to take the comp time, essentially working for free. “I understand its comp time, but they won’t get paid. Most workers at this level need the pay”, he says. The non-partisan organization, National Partnership for Women and Families is also opposed to H.R. 1406. Director of Work and Family Programs, Vicki Shabo, thinks there are more helpful measures that Congress should work toward. Raising the minimum wage, more fair pay for women and expanding on the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act might be of more help to working families, she says. It is unlikely that the Senate will ever take up the bill, and the White House has promised a veto if it were ever to reach the president’s desk. Employee rights are constantly in danger. If you or someone you love has experienced employee discrimination, wrongful termination, or any violation of their employee rights in Seattle, Bellevue, or anywhere in the State of Washington, call Phillips Law Firm at 1-800-708-6000. Our Washington employee rights lawyers are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.
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