How will passage of the overtime pay bill affect retailers and workers?
The House of Representatives has passed HR 1180, otherwise known as the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017. The legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby (R – AL), gives employers the option to allow workers to take paid time off in compensation for overtime hours rather than the current law requiring they be paid time-and-a-half.
The vote for HR 1180 broke largely along party lines with the Republican majority in support and the Democrats opposing. Similar legislation has been proposed in the past, but has never passed both chambers of Congress. A bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R – UT) is in committee in the Senate. It would require 60 votes — the GOP holds 52 seats — to avoid a filibuster.
Those supporting the legislation pointed to the flexibility it would provide workers to take care of matters such as caring for a sick child. They emphasized that the decision to take comp time is up to workers. Any unused comp time at the end of the year would need to be paid by the employer at the overtime rate.
Representatives who voted against the bill expressed concern that it would be used by employers to coerce workers into choosing comp time rather than paying overtime wages. While language in the bill prohibits coercion, the reality, opponents contend, is that workers being paid hourly wages are less likely to seek redress in the courts should this type of activity take place.
Opponents said passage of the legislation may also create a situation in which employers choose employees to work overtime based on their preference for taking time off rather than being paid at the overtime rate.
While business groups support the measure, a requirement that workers give advanced notice of planned time off could work against employees who may be denied comp time when they need it most, according to the bill’s critics.
A White House press release said President Trump would sign the legislation if it made it to his desk in its current form.
- HR 1180 – Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017
- The House just passed a bill that affects overtime pay – CNN Money
- House Republicans just voted to change overtime rules for workers – The Washington Post
- H.R. 1180 – Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (Rep. Roby, R-AL, and 17 cosponsors) – The White House
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would the passage of a legislation similar to HR 1180 in both Houses of Congress be good for retail industry employers and workers? What percentage of retailers do you imagine would opt-in to offer workers the choice of comp time should the legislation become law?