Some say the Working Families Flexibility Act benefits employees while others worry employers will use it to cheat employees out of wages.

This week the House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act which would amend the FLSA’s overtime regulations and give employers the option of offering employees comp time instead of overtime.

The Act would allow employers to offer employees comp time (more vacation time) in lieu of overtime pay.  Comp time would be accrued at 1.5 hours for every overtime hour worked in excess of 40 per week.  The FLSA currently mandates that employees be paid time and a half for every hour worked in excess of 40.

All of the Democrats in the House voted against the bill, expressing serious concerns that employers could take advantage of employees by offering the comp time and then preventing them from taking it or forcing them to take it at inconvenient times.  Opponents also worry that the bill fails to provide protections for a lot of potential abuses, including what happens to the accrued comp time if an employer closes its doors or goes bankrupt.  Note:  some states like Illinois require an employer to pay a separating employee for all accrued but unused vacation pay but some states do not.

The way the bill is written right now, the choice belongs to the employee. And there is no doubt this could be a really good thing for certain groups of employees like parents who need greater flexibility or those suffering from health conditions who need additional paid time off.

However, the bill needs some checks and balances in place which would prohibit employers from denying the right to actually use the time off and which would ensure an employee’s ability to use the time off when they actually need it; not when its convenient for the employer.  It is possible these changes could be added as the Bill makes its way through the Senate.  Given the number of workers this could impact this is one we will be watching closely.  Check back for updates.