Proposed House Legislation Promises Work Flextime

Last week, by a vote of 8-6, the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee approved legislation meant to provide more workplace flexibility. H.R. 1119, the Family Time Flexibility Act, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and allow employees to receive compensatory time off in place of overtime pay. House supporters say the bill gives workers more flexibility in their work schedule.

Organizations around the country are weighing in on the legislation’s merits. On March 12, Houston Williams spoke to the House subcommittee on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than three million U.S. businesses and organizations. In his testimony, Mr. Williams said that H.R. 1119 would modernize the FLSA. He explained that the legislation would allow employees to build up a banks of time that they could use to take paid time off from work when they need it, if the time off does not disrupt the employer’s business. He also said that compensatory time, or family time, offers workers a way to balance family and work time.

Critics against the legislation argue that it fails to deliver what it promises. In a briefing paper about the proposed legislation, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) contends that existing laws already give worktime flexibility. The EPI is a nonprofit organization, which focuses on economic conditions of low- and middle-income families.

In a March 31 EPI brief, Ross Eisenbrey writes that under the FLSA, employees who work overtime must be paid time-and-a-half for those hours at the time they are worked, or they can make arrangements to take unpaid time off at a later date. With the proposed changes, however, employees could wait as long as a year to receive pay or time off for overtime work.

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