Archive for April, 2013

It’s About Time!

Is it possible? Could Congress finally be considering doing something right for both employers and employees? I know, it is a bit shocking and this is pretty hard for me to say, especially, when you consider that members of Congress are less respected by the American public than even lawyers. That’s right, lower than lawyers.

Well, get this: H.R. 1406, introduced in the House of Representatives on April 9, 2013, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow for compensatory time in lieu of overtime for private sector employees. How is this good for employees? If you’re thinking that employers will just abuse poor employees by making them take compensatory time instead of overtime, then you might want to think again. This bill actually has some protections built in for employees.

I’m not going to go into too much detail, because this bill, like all bills, might look very different if and when it is finally passed. But, here are the highlights:

●  Compensatory time will be earned at 1.5 hours for each overtime hour

●  Employers can only use compensatory time in lieu of overtime if doing so is provided for in a collective bargaining agreement or, in the case of non-union employees, with a written agreement entered into knowingly and voluntarily by the employee before the work is done

●  Employers can’t enter into a compensatory time agreement with any employee unless the employee has worked at least 1000 hours for the employer in the 12-month period prior to the date of the agreement (so new employees are protected from undue employer pressure)

●  Compensatory time is capped at 160 hours, then it is back to overtime pay

●  At the end of the year, the employer has to pay the employee for any unused compensatory time

●  If an employee is fired or quits, the employee gets paid for all unused accrued compensatory time

The bill also has some language about not interfering with an employee’s right to use compensatory time and includes details about the amount of payment and remedies for employees.

This is a good idea. Public sector employers have been doing it for years and I think some employees — although not all employees – and some employers – although not all employers — would like this. So write your congressperson and maybe, just maybe, Congress will surprise us all and do something that is actually productive for a change.