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The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce April 17 approved the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1406) by a vote of 23-14. The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide compensatory time for employees in the private sector.

Currently, the FLSA requires covered employees to receive an overtime rate of “time-and-a-half” for hours worked over 40 within a work week. The law mandates overtime compensation for private-sector workers in the form of cash wages and prohibits these workers from choosing paid time off instead – a benefit state and local government employees have long enjoyed.

Before the vote, ABC sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the committee supporting the bill. 

“ABC and its member companies support workplace flexibility,” ABC wrote. “Flexibility in the workplace leads to a more productive and healthy work environment. The Working Families Flexibility Act provides ample employee protections, ensuring employees are given the choice of taking overtime in cash payments or in the form of paid time off from work.”

As approved by the committee, H.R. 1406 will:

  • Allow employers to offer employees a choice between cash wages and comp time for overtime hours worked – no employee can be forced to take comp time instead of receiving overtime pay.
  • Protect employees by requiring the employer and the employee to complete a written agreement to use comp time, entered into knowingly and voluntarily by the employee. If the employee is represented by a union, the agreement to take comp time must be part of the collective bargaining agreement.
  • Retain all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40-hour work week and how overtime compensation is accrued. 
  • Allow employees to 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.