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Ruth Martin's picture

You’ve heard about fake news. How about fake names for bad legislation? Yup, that’s happening too… but together we can stop it.

The deceptively named, wolf in sheep's clothing, “Working Families Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1180 / S. 801) was just voted out of committee in Congress. It is now headed for a full vote on the House floor very soon and it's on us to make our voices heard to help stop it before it gets any momentum. This is a big deal because if passed, this bill would mean a pay cut for working people and less – not more – workplace flexibility!

We have to stop this wolf in sheep's clothing bill ASAP. This bill is moving forward quickly and we need to act now to make sure our members of Congress know that working parents aren’t fooled by this.

What’s happening exactly?

This deceptively named bill claims to give hourly workers more time with their families by allowing them to choose paid time off, instead of overtime pay, as compensation for working more than 40 hours in a week.

The reality though is bleak.

What the bill would actually do is permit employers to demand more hours from their employees without timely overtime pay and without any guarantee that the comp time employees earn will be available to use when they need it. That is because employers can veto employees’ requests to use accrued comp time anytime the employer feel the employee’s absence will “unduly disrupt” the employer’s business – even if the request is for an urgent need like caring for a sick kiddo.

Further, instead of helping working people receive better wages and time away from work, H.R. 1180/S. 801 would create a new right for employers, allowing them to delay paying overtime wages for as long as 13 (!!!) months.

People living paycheck to paycheck can’t afford, and should never be asked, to loan their bosses their hard-earned overtime pay for months at a time.

This bill would put people who need to work extra hours to pay their bills in a bind by forcing them to choose between time and money while providing no real guarantee of paid time off. The total lack of a guarantee of paid time off is one of the most horrible things about this bill filled with fake promises and empty lip service.

For example, there is no guarantee that a mother who works extra hours this week will be able to take that time off next week if her daughter comes down with the flu or if she needs to attend a parent-teacher conference; or that an expecting mother will be able to use accrued comp time as parental leave when her child is born, even if she’s worked enough overtime to save for an extended leave.

Virtually all employees need time off; people need time away from work to care for their loved ones and themselves. After all, everyone gets sick at some time or another. But this proposal is misguided and problematic:

Workers who prefer overtime pay to comp time could see their hours – and their potential to accrue overtime pay – cut because employers will save on payroll by giving extra hours and shifts to workers who accept comp time in lieu of overtime pay.

Employees who earn comp time have no guarantee that they will be able to use it when they need it, because employers can veto employees’ requests to use accrued comp time anytime they feel the employee’s absence will “unduly disrupt” the employer’s business – even if the request is for an urgent need like caring for a sick kiddo.

And, employees who accept comp time are vulnerable to an employers’ unilateral decision to cash the time out even when the employee may be banking the time for a particular purpose, like maternity leave.

Employers may begin to see comp time as an alternative to offering vacation or sick time, shifting the cost of accrued time off from employers to employees.

That’s not flexibility. And that is not what working families need. When working people have the flu or a child gets sick, they need to know they can take a paid sick day – not worry about their bosses denying a comp time request.

Will you stand with us as we say NO to H.R.1180/S. 801?

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