Turbulent news regarding overtime and how employers have to comply with FLSA standards has been a source of confusion over the last few months. And if a Republican-sponsored bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, there could be yet another wrinkle into the debate.

On May 2, the House voted to pass a bill that would allow private-sector employees to exchange time-and-a-half overtime pay for compensatory time off. The bill passed 229 to 197, largely along party lines.

GOP leaders are calling the legislation the Working Families Flexibility Act and are lauding the flexibility factor for employees. The bill suggests that lower-wage hourly workers who don’t typically have the same access to paid time off as their salaried counterparts would now get that option to take care of their family. Democrats who oppose the bill expressed concern that providing this option would allow employers to have the final say on when the time off could be used. 

The bill proposes capping the number of leave hours at 160. Under the proposed change, eligible employees (if their employer decides to offer the option) would be able to voluntarily choose to receive comp time. They can bank it and use at a future date instead of the immediate overtime pay in their paychecks. If they do in fact decide they want the pay after all, employees would have the option of cashing out which means the employer must pay the overtime within 30 days.

Similar bills have been introduced multiple times over the past two decades, but have failed to get past the Senate. In fact, a version of the bill was introduced to the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, but it’s still in committee.

Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate. In order for this one to avoid a filibuster, it will need eight Democrats to vote in favor.

What do you think of the proposed changes?

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