HR Legislation Update: The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013

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Each week Blogging4Jobs will be giving you an update on legislation that is currently making it’s way through Congress & Senate that relates to HR and the Workplace. This week we are covering The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1406).

Many Americans feel the daily pull between work, kids, spouse, hobbies, aging parents, activities and more. Speaking from experience, I know sometimes it can feel like a day with twice as many hours in it still wouldn’t be sufficient to accomplish everything you need to.

For millions of workers, these time stresses are magnified when their employer needs them to work overtime.

Sure, overtime is great for your paycheck, but at some point you have to ask which is more valuable, the extra money you receive or the time you could be spending on things outside of work. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) asked that question earlier this year when she introduced H.R. 1406, The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013. This legislation was passed on May 8 and effectively allows employers to offer private-sector employees the choice of paid time off in lieu of cash wages for overtime hours worked.

Here are some highlights of this act:

  • Employees may choose whether they want comp time or cash and cannot be forced to take comp time. They also have the ability to change their mind at any time.
  • Employees can accrue up to 160 hours of comp time each year. An employer would be required to pay cash wages for any unused time at the end of the year. Workers are free to ‘cash out’ their accrued comp time whenever they choose to do so.
  • All existing protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act are maintained, including the 40-hour workweek and how overtime compensation is accrued.

Since 1938 when the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, private-sector employees (those not working for government entities) have been compensated for overtime worked through cash payments. This ensured that employees would be fairly compensated for overtime, but didn’t take into account that there might be another option for compensating employees for overtime. It may seem short sighted to have passed legislation prohibiting any overtime compensation other than cash, but there was also a much slower pace of life in those days.

Looking back just 40 or so years to 1975, only 47 percent of moms were part of our workforce. Now in 2013, that number is at 71 percent. To really put it in perspective, think about the fact that 8.5 million workers are single parents, one in three undergrads work full time and 57 percent of military spouses are part of the workforce. I would be willing to bet that to some of these millions of workers, paid time off might be more valuable than the cash compensation.

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