The least flexible part of the Workplace Flexibility Act (for workers)

Gigi Douban May 6, 2013
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The least flexible part of the Workplace Flexibility Act (for workers)

Gigi Douban May 6, 2013
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Congress is expected to consider a bill this week to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act. But some say the proposed changes are anything but fair. The bill, called the Working Families Flexibility Act, would give private employers the right to offer hourly workers paid time off instead of overtime.

For a lot of low-paid hourly workers, taking time off just isn’t going to happen. The proposed bill would solve that problem, says Rae Chornenky, president of the National Federation of Republican Women. Instead of getting overtime pay, workers can get comp time to stay home with a sick kid, for example.

“When these are parents, many times single parents, to have that choice, it’s the most important part of the act,” Chornenky says.

But Joan Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law, says the proposal isn’t family friendly.

“This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” she says.

Williams says it would let employers off the hook from having to pay time and a half for overtime. There might be time off for extra hours, “but the comp time is at a ratio of 1-to-1, not 1-to-1.5,” Williams says.

And cheap overtime, Williams says, means more overtime. What happens when workers can’t work those extra hours? Williams says, often, they get fired.

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