Last month, the House passed the Working Families Flexibility Act

By UpCounsel Employment Attorney Josh Garber

Last month, the House passed the Working Families Flexibility Act, a controversial piece of legislation that would allow private-sector employees to trade overtime pay for compensatory time off, which the employee could use to take time off from work at later date.

Although its supporters tout the bill as pro-employee, there are many who oppose the bill and argue that employees may feel pressured by their employer to trade much needed extra income for days off from work. While the Working Families Flexibility Act specifically bans employers from “directly or indirectly intimidating, threatening, or coercing or attempting to intimidate, threaten, or coerce an employee” to choose comp time over pay, the bill’s opponents argue that employers will have strong incentives to give overtime hours to workers who choose to take comp time, cutting off access to work to those in need of overtime pay.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren went to so far as to call the bill a “disgrace,” saying that it will gut protections for working families. Another opponent of the bill, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), said, “The choice between overtime pay and comp time is a false choice for workers. We know what happens in the reality of the workplace. The vague promise of time off in the future is often never realized.”

Despite these criticisms, those who support the legislation argue that many families would prefer additional time off to more pay, and that this freedom to choose, if not infringed on, is ultimately good for workers.

The Working Families Flexibility Act is likely to face stiff opposition; however, if passed in the Senate, it has the potential to significantly impact workplace dynamics for non-exempt workers around the country.

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