Committee Republicans Pass Harmful Bill Stripping Workers of Overtime Pay
WASHINGTON – Today, the Committee on Education and the Workforce held a markup on H.R. 1180, the Working Families Flexibility Act. Republicans rejected Democrats’ efforts to advance amendments that would have provided real solutions for workers – paid sick days, fair work schedules, and strengthened overtime protections. Republicans voted unanimously (22-16) to make it harder for working people to be paid for every hour on the job.
“H.R. 1180 doesn’t give employees any rights they don’t already have,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “Most employees can already take time off without pay. The bill does, however, create a new right for employers to withhold employees’ overtime pay.”
H.R. 1180 legislation amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to permit private sector employers to enter into a voluntary agreement with their employees to “compensate” hourly workers. This agreement would apply to hours worked beyond 40 in a week with one-and-one-half hours of compensatory time off (“comp time”) at some point, in the future in lieu of providing overtime (time-and-a-half) pay in an employee’s next scheduled paycheck.
“Too many workers are facing a great deal of economic anxiety,” stated Vice Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01). “They are worried about rent or mortgage payments, increasing health care costs, balancing family responsibilities and work, and making ends meet. The so-called Working Families Flexibility Act is not a solution. Giving workers comp time makes them choose between receiving earned overtime pay and time off with their families and their loved ones. The reality is that they need both, and it’s long past time that Congress enacted meaningful solutions to raise workers’ wages, increase access to paid sick days and family leave, provide flexible and predictable scheduling, and help Americans better balance work and family life.”
While H.R. 1180 states employees are free to choose whether to accept comp time, in practice, employees may feel they have no alternative but to accept this arrangement. Moreover, this legislation makes it more likely that employers will assign overtime to workers who accept comp time, and less likely that a worker who needs overtime pay will be able to get it.
“Middle-class Americans increasingly feel like their government is not on their side and today Committee Republicans proved them right,” Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), the Ranking Member of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. “A bill that undermines a worker's right to receive overtime pay – while giving them no meaningful protections in return – violates the Committee’s obligation to support working families. This so-called Flexibility for Working Families Act is truly a betrayal of working families, and it follows a pattern in which the rules of the economy are rigged against the American worker. I will vigorously oppose this legislation when it goes to the House floor and I call on my colleagues to do the same.”
Nothing in the so-called Working Families Flexibility Act strengthens existing workplace protections or promotes workplace flexibility. Workers who depend on the wage and hour protections in the FLSA should not have to sacrifice earned wages to have more time off from work.
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