Legislation that would allow private sector employers to offer their employees compensatory time off in lieu of overtime was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Notably, the Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1406) was introduced by Republican lawmakers, increasing the odds that this bill will advance in the House this term.
This measure would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to permit private-sector employees to opt for paid time off at a rate of at least one-and-one-half hours of compensatory time per hour of overtime pay earned. This “comp time” option has long been available to public sector employees, and has proven to be very popular.
By way of example, an employee who works 48 hours per week would receive either 8 hours of pay at a rate of time-and-one-half or 12 hours of paid leave. This act would not change how overtime is calculated. To be eligible to choose comp time, employees would have to have worked at least 1,000 hours for the employer on a continuous basis within a 12-month period. Employees would be able to accrue up to 160 hours of comp time per year, and employers would be required to cash out any accrued, unused comp time at the end of the year. An employer would have the option of cashing out an employee’s unused comp time that exceeds 80 hours so long as notice is provided at least 30 days in advance.
A non-union employer would be able to discontinue this comp time policy at any time, provided that at least 30 days’ notice is given. The bill stipulates that where collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) are in place, the offer of comp time and its terms must be included in the CBA. Employees would also be able to request that their accrued comp time be cashed out at any time. Employers would have 30 days to comply with the cash-out request.
This bill would sunset five years from the date of enactment.
In a press release, Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), chief sponsor of the bill, said: “right now the law prohibits private businesses from offering comp time options for their employees, even though it is legal in the public sector. Washington shouldn't stand in the way of an employer and an employee coming to a ‘comp time’ agreement that each is happy with.”
A House committee hearing is scheduled to consider this bill on Thursday, April 11.