“New” Comp Time Bill Passes House Committee, Not as “New” as You Think

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A “new” concept as old as your 90s nostalgia

Just like the constantly viral band OK Go hops from treadmill to treadmill, many members of congress were likely thinking “here it goes again” when the “new” Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180/S. 801) was introduced in February — and then passed by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce this spring.

But the Working Families Flexibility Act, casually referred to as “the comp time bill,” isn’t actually new. Overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 44 hours a week was originally outlined in the FLSA in 1938, to help ensure workers could make ends meet during the Great Depression. This “new” bill that amends the FLSA has actually been reintroduced every few years since 1996. And much like the Tamagotchi, it’s back again. (Yep, Tamagotchis made their debut in 1996 too.)

So it’s no surprise that the discussion of comp time or overtime pay has resurfaced to accommodate a more forgiving work-life balance.

The main goal of the bill is to amend the FLSA regulations on overtime to allow private-sector employees to receive comp time in lieu of receiving overtime pay at the rate of 90 minutes for every hour worked in overtime. For example: If an employee works two hours overtime one week. Instead of being paid for those extra two hours, that employee may be able to take 180 minutes of time off later on. Under the amendment, employees cannot be forced to accept comp time, nor can they accrue more than 160 hours of comp time.

 

31% of employees undecided about comp time amendment

Supporters of the bill call it “common sense legislation.” And it seems simple enough: An employee wants a few extra days off, so they put in a few extra hours to gain more PTO. And when TSheets surveyed 1,000 employees what they thought about legalizing comp time in lieu of overtime pay, 44 percent of respondents said they would support the change.

Meanwhile, there are those who fear the comp time bill doesn’t offer enough protections for employees, and it’s really intended to benefit employers — and cut the cost of employee overtime. This concern is amplified by employees who rely on overtime wages to survive. In the same TSheets survey, 25 percent of respondents stood firmly against comp time in place of overtime, while 31 percent were still unsure if the FLSA, a nearly 80-year-old legislation, should be updated at all.

Since the comp time bill passed the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, it’s continued to draw debate over who it would truly benefit from the amendment. It’s unclear whether the bill will finally become law, but it’s possible, and you can follow updates on the proposal here.

No matter where you stand on the Working Families Flexibility Act, I think we can all agree to bank some extra hours and using our newfound comp time to play with our new (or old) Tamagotchis.

5 Comments

  1. Custom Web Application Development says:

    Informative blog !

    [Reply]

  2. Daniel Keating says:

    The problems with comp time is that not only does the employer pocket the extra 1/2 pay but gets an interest free loan on your time. I had an old employer that was a salaried corp guy who got comp time for anything over 45 hours and as he used to say–“yeah just *try* getting the time off…”.
    Lets do some math and assume you get a standard 2 week vacation already. Now you get comp time . So you work 50 weeks a year (2 weeks off) and 5 days a week so that’s 250 days. You work an hour of OT a day and that banks up to 250 hours a year plus the 80 hours (2 weeks vacation) you are already given. Thats 330 hours of PTO you now have accumulated. What employer is going to be OK with paying you to take a little over 2 MONTHS OFF WITH PAY. 40 hours a week–divide the 330 by 40 and thats a little over 8 weeks or 2 months.
    Now the employer will want to cash you out and ONLY give you the money and not the time off..but wait–that’s supposed to be PTO so that’s money and NOT having to work…right? So now all you get is the time–not the time & a half and no break and you had to wait a year to get the time. Think about it folks

    [Reply]

    Common Sense Reply:

    @Daniel Keating, “What employer is going to be OK with paying you to take a little over 2 MONTHS OFF WITH PAY.”
    – If the law changes the employer doesn’t have to be Okay with it. Also, considering all the overtime you put in in your example; probably anyone would be okay with that.

    “Now the employer will want to cash you out and ONLY give you the money”
    – Now what? Now your false assumption that the employer won’t honor the law or your agreement?

    I’m tired of people trying to twist perspectives on legislation like this. Its an option you can CHOOSE to get accrued PTO instead of time and a half Pay. Its making it more flexible so you can CHOOSE how you want to be compensated.

    Being upset that someone is wanting to provide an option to an existing program with no requirement to be forced to select the option is just plan crazy. It might not be the right fit for some people; but they don’t have to use it. Others who are wanting the time for some purpose will welcome the OPTION as it provides a solution for them where there previously was none.

    “not only does the employer pocket the extra 1/2 pay”
    – This is your silliest statement. The negative hit the employer takes is having workers with a more variable Time-Off schedule since it is accruing PTO. IS it more cost effective for the employer? – NO, It costs the employer MORE… not only does the employer have to pay for the PTO hour for you, but they also have to pay someone an hour to fill your shoes when you take the time off. – Do you think the business shuts down and your job goes unattended because you are on PTO? NO, someone has to be paid. So- IN FACT the employer isn’t saving 1/2 pay, they are spending 1/2 pay more with this program to pay the guy that had to fill your shoes while your on PTO. THINK ABOUT IT.

    [Reply]

    Daniel Keating Reply:

    @Common Sense,
    “NO, It costs the employer MORE… not only does the employer have to pay for the PTO hour for you, but they also have to pay someone an hour to fill your shoes when you take the time off. – Do you think the business shuts down and your job goes unattended because you are on PTO? NO, someone has to be paid. So- IN FACT the employer isn’t saving 1/2 pay, they are spending 1/2 pay more with this program to pay the guy that had to fill your shoes while your on PTO. THINK ABOUT IT.”

    Do you think the employer hires MORE people or just shifts the work burden to existing employees? Tax cuts have proven that with no incentive to increase expenses to deduct against earnings they maximize profits by cutting staff.
    The problem is this is not going to be an OPTION–it’s going to be the only offering. Back to the days of working the best producer to death.
    The law as it’s currently written leaves the discretion for off time solely at the whim of the employer. With the option for them to cash you out they won’t need an extra body now will they? Too much benefit to the employer and nothing to the employee

    [Reply]

    James Hay Reply:

    What employer is going to wants its employees to work 45 hours this week and 35 hours next week and get paid for an additional 2-1/2 hours?

    Compensatory time should be hour for hour unless 1) it takes an employee over 40 hours in the week it was taken and then only the hours in excess of 40 should be at 1-1/2 times pay, or 2) the employee elects to be paid out the accumulated “excess” time in weeks where they are already working 40 hours or where the employer doesn’t make the normal number of weekly work hours (up to 40) available to the employee.

    [Reply]

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