House passes bill that allows comp time for private sector workers

Congress is set to return to Capitol Hill after a seven week break. (Photo Credit: Mark Meredith)

CNNMoney (New York) — Do you get paid for overtime work? The House of Representatives just passed a bill you may want to know about.

The measure, backed by Republicans, would let employers give workers time off instead of time-and-a-half pay the next time they put in extra hours. The vote tally was largely along party lines, with no Democrats voting in favor of the bill. Six Republicans also voted against it.

G.O.P. leadership has touted the legislation, called the Working Families Flexibility Act, as an attempt 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.

The Trump administration also came out in support of the measure on Tuesday. The White House said in a news release that the president’s advisers would recommend Trump sign the bill into law if it was presented to him in its current form.

“H.R. 1180 would help American workers balance the competing demands of family and work by giving them flexibility to earn paid time off—time they can later use for any reason, including family commitments like attending school appointments and caring for a sick child. In addition, H.R. 1180 contains critical protections to ensure employees can continue to choose overtime pay and to prohibit employers from coercing their employees to accept compensatory time instead of overtime pay.” – The White House

But Democrats stand in strong opposition. Their chief concern is that employers have the final say on when comp time can be used, which means bosses can defer compensating employees for overtime work.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — a Democrat who has made workers’ protections her flagship cause and sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions — called the bill a “disgrace” on Twitter.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, who is the top Democrat on the Senate HELP committee, said the bill doesn’t put workers first.

“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.

Congressional Republicans have pitched similar measures a number of times over the past two decades but have been unable to get the rule on the books. An analogous bill passed the House in 2013 but died in the Senate.

Republicans, who hold 52 seats in the upper chamber, will need eight Democrats to vote in favor of the legislation to avoid a filibuster.

The House bill is 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.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, compensatory time off (comp time) is currently legal only for public center employees. The White House said that this bill “would extend to private-sector workers a choice that public-sector employees have long enjoyed.”

Compensatory time off (comp time) is paid time off the job that is earned and accrued by an employee instead of immediate cash payment for working overtime hours. The use of comp time instead of overtime is limited by Section 7(o) of the FLSA to a public agency that is a state, a political subdivision of a state, or an interstate governmental agency.

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