By Ryan Velez
If you are a worker who makes good money from overtime pay, CNN reports that you may want to take a close look at one of the latest bills passed by the House of Representatives. Backed by Republicans and largely voted on across party lines, the bill would allow employers to give paid time off rather than time-and-a-half the next time one puts in extra hours. While it is being pitched as a work-life balance measure, many don’t see it that way.
Called the Working Families Flexibility Act by G.O.P leadership, the idea behind the bill is to codify flexibility for employees. “I don’t think there’s anything more powerful than giving them more control over their time so that they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington said Tuesday morning in a press conference held by Republican leaders in the House. Notably, the Trump Administration is also in support of the measure, with a White House measure saying that the president’s advisors would recommend he sign it into law if presented in its current form.
Notably, Elizabeth Warren, a longtime champion of worker’s rights who sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions — called the bill a “disgrace” on Twitter. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, head of the Committee, says that the bill doesn’t truly put workers first as one may think. “This is nothing but a recycled bad bill that would allow big corporations to make an end-run around giving workers the pay they’ve earned,” Murray said in a statement.
Much of the concern and opposition from Democrats revolves around the fact that ultimately, employers have the final say over how comp time is used, unlike overtime pay. The result could be that bosses defer employees their compensation for overtime work.
This isn’t the first time that Republicans have pitched a similar measure, but they were never able to get it on the books. In 2013, a similar bill passed the House but died in the Senate. Republicans, who hold 52 seats in the Senate, will need eight Democrats to vote for the legislation to avoid a filibuster. The House bill was sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah has introduced a similar bill in the Senate, but it’s still in committee as of this writing.