The Republicans don’t support workers, they support your boss. No clearer evidence of this is needed than the Senate Bill introduced by Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Galapagos) and Mike Lee (R-Utah); called the “Working Family Flexibility Act,” it allows employees who work overtime to choose between monetary compensation or comp-time and as a result, is anything but “family flexible.”
According to the Representative of Order Testudine, the bill is going to “help provide America’s workers with the flexible work arrangements they’ve told us they need,” and “Countless Americans have become increasingly familiar with the same challenging reality: more and more to do, with less and less time to do it.” It’s supposed to alleviate the difficulties of trying to balance work, home, kids, and community.
Reality, though . . . well, reality has something a little different to say about this anti-worker legislation.
According to the Lane Report, the bill:
- Gives private-sector employers the ability to offer their employees the option of comp time or overtime pay, both accrued at 11Ž2 times the overtime hours worked. Federal, State & local governments are currently allowed to offer comp time to their employees, but private-sector employers are banned from doing so by federal law.
- Requires employers who decide to offer this option to their employees to establish a written agreement with the employee outlining the options and to allow each employee to voluntarily choose the option that best fits his needs.
- Requires that comp time agreements be included in the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the union and the employer for any employee represented by a union.
- Allows employees who choose to accrue comp time to accrue up to 160 hours each year.
- Allows employees to “cash out” their accrued comp time at the traditional overtime pay rate at any time throughout the year.
- Maintains all existing employee protections, including the current 40-hour workweek and overtime accrual, and provides additional safeguards to ensure that the choice to use comp time is voluntary.
- Requires employers to pay employees at the traditional overtime rate for any unused comp time at the end of each calendar year.
- Ends the unfair discrimination against private-sector employees
- Enables parents to better balance work and family obligations
- Frees all workers to choose which commodity – time or money – is the more important resource at a given time
- Lessens the burden of unnecessary federal regulations
The Democratic Underground notes that this isn’t the first the Republicans have introduced this train wreck. In fact, this bill may accomplish numerous Republican goals, one of them is undermining the federal definition of full-time and thereby scoring a hefty blow on Obamacare and the millions of Americans who depend on it for affordable insurance.
The bill replaces the 40-hour work week with “a ‘comp time’ accrual system that would allow employers greater control over their hourly employee’s schedule” and “The bill ends ‘time-and-a-half’ overtime pay for hourly and non-exempt workers as we know it, giving renewed incentive for businesses to work their employees as long as they want with near impunity.”
“Comp time” is a blow against the 40-hours work week; the goal of the 40-hour work week was to give employees eight hours at work, eight hours of rest, and eight hours of free time. The 40-hour work week is “encouraged” by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which became law in 1938. The FLSA says that any hours over 40 have to be time-and-a-half and received on their next pay period.
This “comp time” means that employers are encouraged to do the exact opposite of that; since overtime is less expensive, employers can get more scheduling workers for 50 or 60-hour shifts. This means less time for yourself and your family, not more. This “comp time” also encourages mandated overtime, and ends overtime pay too:
“Comp time” encourages mandatory overtime – and ends overtime pay as we know it. Instead of time-and-a-half pay for hours worked past 40, workers would get “comp time,” hours of time off to be taken later. Employers benefit because they don’t have to pay overtime, plus, they can have you use your comp time in a way that won’t cost them extra (during less busy periods, etc.).
So what’s this mean? Well, this means companies could train workers not to take overtime in the same way that Target trains their employees not to join a union, or they could award preferential treatment to those employees who take “comp time” rather than overtime. Ultimately, it amounts to what sane people call a “pay cut:”
Don’t be fooled: this is a pay cut. Again, having hours off “at some point” sounds nice. But overall, workers’ take home pay will go down, because that supplemental income you would’ve had from working overtime will disappear. Besides, depending on your schedule, you could get to December 31 without having the chance to use your accrued comp time, at which point you are left with no time off and no extra pay.