ONTD Political

House GOP Votes To End Overtime Pay With ‘Working Families Flexibility Act’

8:46 pm - 05/13/2013

The GOP-led U.S. House voted to allow employers to replace overtime pay, as currently required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), with compensatory time off, or comp time. This sounds great until the bill, inappropriately titled “The Working Families Flexibility Act”, is actually looked at. Despite its claim of increased flexibility, it will make it easier for employers to schedule lots of overtime without paying, and give workers far less flexibility in their lives.

While the comp time would be provided at the same time-and-a-half rate as the FLSA requires for overtime, it would hurt the many low-wage, hourly workers in this country who so frequently depend on overtime pay to make ends meet.

Employers must pay out any comp time no later than 31 days after the end of the company’s year or the end of the calendar year, whichever the company adheres to. While that may wind up being a fairly hefty chunk of pay all at once, it doesn’t help with weekly and monthly expenses for those who are used to depending on overtime pay, though an employee can request payment for any unused comp time at any time under this act.

Furthermore, that accrued and unused comp time is essentially an interest-free loan to the employer, right out of the employees’ pockets. Yes, employers have to pay if the time isn’t used, but they get a 30-day window, even if the employee requests to have comp time cashed out early. With that window, the employee may or may not see the money on their next paycheck, making it harder to plan and to meet unexpected expenses.

The bill also doesn’t contain provisions for allowing workers to use their comp time when they need it, say, for emergencies, sudden illness, parental obligations, surgery, etc. The FLSA is already woefully inadequate when it comes to providing for time off, paid or otherwise, and this does not touch on that issue at all. Ergo, an employer can pay its employees with comp time, but refuse to let them use it when they need it.

One analysis of the bill says it creates incentives for employers to overwork employees who agree to take comp time. Employees can bank up to 160 hours under the law, but those employees who don’t agree to it and want to keep getting overtime pay would probably not get the hours they’re looking for. Indeed, this bill also says nothing about having to provide overtime hours equally to employees regardless of their overtime or comp time status.

Much of that is wildly hypocritical considering Congress is only slated to be in session for 126 days this year. The phrase “overworked and underpaid” will apply to workers even more under this law, while Congress works less and less. They’re paid $174,000 per year to work for less than half of it.

There is also no recourse for employees who find themselves intimidated or coerced into agreeing to comp time, despite this bill’s prohibition against that. Their only recourse is to sue, which is expensive and time-consuming, and may or may not be successful. Employees who manage to get a class certification for such litigation would also likely find themselves with less-than-fair financial compensation from whatever settlement is reached, since that is the typical outcome of class-action lawsuits.

In other words, this law hamstrings hourly workers and puts the few remaining cards they have into the hands of their employers. It doesn’t help families, it hurts them, by continuing to erode workers’ rights.

By Rika Christensen. May 11, 2013.


karikinetic 14th-May-2013 12:28 pm (UTC)
It'll die in the Senate. And if the Democrats were smart, they'd hang this bill around Republican necks like a sandwich board that reads "BAD FOR WORKERS, BAD FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS."

But Democrats aren't very smart, so...
chaya 14th-May-2013 12:39 pm (UTC)
The bill also doesn’t contain provisions for allowing workers to use their comp time when they need it

Hopefully the dems don't drop the ball this time, and will actually drive this fact home. It's gonna die in the senate either way, but the whole point of renewing this old idea is to make it look like the republicans are trying to be innovative and family-friendly. Yeah, no.
shhh_its_s3cr3t 14th-May-2013 12:50 pm (UTC)
Fuck yeah GOP... you tried. Please let this die swiftly in the Senate.
darth_eldritch 14th-May-2013 01:06 pm (UTC)
Another angle to exploit workers. How surprising.
bib_specialist 14th-May-2013 01:38 pm (UTC)
Of course it'll die in the Senate, but that's not the point- this thing merely reaching the floor of the House and getting a vote is bad enough as it normalizes and mainstreams this kind of insane right wing fuckery and makes it seem not insane. It's called moving the Overton window.
lonely_hour 14th-May-2013 01:49 pm (UTC)
that's crazy. and the name of the bill defies everything but i see what you're doing there.
recorded 14th-May-2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
that's how they title EVERY bill they introduce like, ever.
skellington1 14th-May-2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
Pretty much. It's one reason I'd really love to see a one subject/explanatory title amendment, but it'll never happen.
carmy_w 14th-May-2013 02:25 pm (UTC)
You know, if I did this much unnecessary work that just had to be redone at my office, my boss would fire me in a heartbeat.
Which is EXACTLY what needs to happen!
hinoema Second verse... and taxes?14th-May-2013 02:45 pm (UTC)
Why does this sound familiar? Oh, yeah...

Such proposals aren't entirely new. The GOP pushed a similar, failed effort in 2003, called the Family Time Flexibility Act, which would have given private-sector workers the voluntary option of taking comp time rather than overtime pay, limited to 160 hours per year. That bill expressly forbid employers from pressuring workers into taking comp time rather than pay, but opponents of such measures warn that such coercion would still happen.


Plus, if I'm not mistaken and employers pay out this 'comp time' in a lump sum at year's end, aren't those types of checks taxed at around fifty percent? I believe they are.

Edited at 2013-05-14 03:21 pm (UTC)
crossfire 14th-May-2013 05:21 pm (UTC)
All PTO payouts I've ever received have been taxed at the rate of a "bonus" which is around 50%. I usually got it back after filing a return, but it still was a sock to the budget.
hinoema 14th-May-2013 05:58 pm (UTC)
If that applies here, this little stunt has the potential to raise part of a person's income to the 50% bracket. Arseholes.
vulturoso 14th-May-2013 04:59 pm (UTC)
Can you imagine how different our government would run if we didn't allow corporations to donate to politicians? I mean, shit.
ohmiya_sg 14th-May-2013 05:09 pm (UTC)
I think about it all the time.
(no subject) - Anonymous
theguindo 15th-May-2013 11:01 pm (UTC)
crossfire 14th-May-2013 05:20 pm (UTC)
because you always get to take your comp time amirite

When I worked retail I wouldn't have been able to make ends meet without the occasional bit of overtime. Comp time wouldn't have helped.
psychesky 14th-May-2013 05:42 pm (UTC)
Because fuck you if you don't have a family, amirite? The only thing I'd need comp time for is if I'm sick myself. I don't have anyone else to take care of. Single people try to make ends meet, too.
moonshaz 14th-May-2013 09:18 pm (UTC)
“The Working Families Flexibility Act”

FUCK THIS TITLE. FUCK IT up the ass with something hard and pointy.

Because calling this bill something that sounds all warm and fuzzy and family-friendly is massively dishonest, and disingenuous, and just plain VILE.

The GOP is vile, through and through, and hell spawn Paul Ryan is one of the vilest of the vilest.

(no subject) - Anonymous
paksenarrion2 WARNING-BIG ASS SPIDER MACRO ABOVE15th-May-2013 01:24 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, now that you have replied, they cannot edit.

And I am archanaphobic as well and *shudder* (even though I know?hope it is fake)

edited to add a mis-placed e

Edited at 2013-05-15 01:25 am (UTC)
kuiskata 15th-May-2013 04:51 am (UTC)
Terribly arachnophobic here - talk about things I did NOT need to see :/
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