U.S. House of Representatives Passes Compensatory Time Amendment to Fair Labor Standards Act

The U.S. House of Representatives has taken a major step toward a significant amendment to the 75 year old Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). On May 8, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013” (H.R. 1406). The bill, which is now in the Senate, proposes that employers be permitted to provide compensatory time instead of overtime pay of 1-1/2 times an employee’s regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.
Employers would be permitted to provide compensatory time only if authorized by a collective bargaining agreement, or, for nonunion employees, if the employer and employee enter into a clear written agreement providing for compensatory time. An employee could not be forced to enter into such an agreement. The bill contains other requirements and limitations. Nevertheless, the bill provides employees with an option other than receiving overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40.
The bill is backed by business groups, while other groups see it as an attack on workers’ rights. Much of the objection stems from the fact that the bill does not permit an employee to unilaterally decide when to take any compensatory time off. At the same time, employers would still be able to mandate that the employee work extra hours, without having to pay overtime.

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