NOTE: This is the third in a series of posts highlighting the commonsense, House-passed jobs measures stalled in the Democratic-led Senate. The first post on the Save American Workers Act is available here and the second post on the Hire More Heroes Act is available here. Subsequent posts will be available on the Speaker’s blog.
Problem: For nearly 30 years, government employees have had the option of receiving either extra pay or extra time off – known as “comp time” – for the overtime hours they’ve worked. Thanks to an outdated federal law prohibiting comp time for private-sector workers, millions of families are being denied the same flexibility. “Overtime rules hurt women by reducing flexibility with their employer,” economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth writes in Real Clear Markets, “many women with children, particularly young mothers who cannot afford childcare, would prefer to have flexibility in their schedule rather than extra overtime pay.”
Our Solution: On May 8, 2013, the House passed the Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1406), legislation introduced by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) that removes the legal barrier preventing private-sector employers from offering comp time, while maintaining the same protections to ensure workers continue receiving overtime pay if they choose to do so. Speaker Boehner highlighted the benefits of the bill in a video last year:
“For decades, government employees who work overtime have been able to choose between getting paid in cash or taking time off later. Republicans want to make sure that ALL workers have that choice. … If you work a few extra hours one day and prefer to take time off on another, you can. That’s the time you can spend helping out your parents, taking the kids to a ballgame, or whatever you see fit. Or if you want, you can just take the cash. Either way, YOU get to make the choice. Not your boss. And not Washington.” (Watch the full video here.)
Senate Inaction: “An animated President Obama cast the need for flexible workplace policies” back in June, The Washington Post reported at that time, but none of that ‘animation’ has translated into action. Despite his rhetoric, President Obama has threatened to veto H.R. 1406 and his party’s leaders in the Senate refuse to bring it to a vote.
Consequences: Labor force participation remains near 30-year lows in the Obama economy and misguided policies, like prohibiting comp time for hourly wage earners, only discourage more Americans from looking for work. Republicans have pressed Senate Democrats to take action on behalf of the hardworking families they represent (see: here and here), and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.