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.