Employers in the private section world are one step closer to being able to pay workers comp time in lieu of time-and-a-half for overtime hours worked.

The House just passed the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate. The bill would allow employers to offer up to 160 hours of comp time instead of overtime pay. The bill would also require firms to pay – at their regular pay rate – workers for their unused comp time.

Under the bill, employees would have to agree to such an arrangement, and employers can’t force employees to accept the paid time off.

Private employers currently aren’t legally allowed to offer non-exempt employees comp time in lieu of overtime pay, but all that could change if this bill passes.

A win-win or a way to skirt proper payment

Supporters claim the bill is a win-win for employers and employees, allowing employers to save on OT and employees to add more vacation time to improve their work/life balance.

On the benefits of the bill, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said of the bill:

“I don’t think there’s anything more powerful than giving them more control over their time so that they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”

Critics, however, think that’s hogwash. They see the bill as a way for employers to avoid properly compensating employees for working long hours.

For example, Senator Patty Murray said of the bill:

“This is nothing but a recycled bad bill that would allow big corporations to make an end-run around giving workers the pay they’ve earned,” Murray said in a statement.

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