Congress Might Just Be Taking Away Your Overtime

Imagine that you usually get about 10 hours overtime in your job.   One day your boss asks you to sign an agreement that you will take comp time, instead of your overtime pay.  The paper says you don’t have to sign it, but you are afraid that if you don’t, you will no longer have a job.

Lots of people are entitled to overtime pay because the law requires them to be paid time and a half for every hour they work over forty hours.  Now a bill that has passed the US House of Representatives allows for comp time instead of overtime pay.

The new bill is called The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017. And it might sound like it would really help families that need to take time off.    Why wouldn’t that be okay?  Because people work overtime for the extra money.  Giving workers time off doesn’t put food on the table or pay the rent.

Here is what the new proposed law says:

– there must be a written agreement signed by the employee for comp time
– the employee has to have worked for 1000 hours in the year before
– only 160 hours of comp time can be accrued
– the employer can withdraw the comp time agreement with 30 days notice

The proposed law also says that the employee:

can withdraw the agreement for comp time
– who asks to be paid for hours must be paid within 30 days
– cannot be harassed about the comp time
– who doesn’t use the comp would get paid at the overtime rate

The bill allows for punishment of employers who don’t follow the rules — but the rules won’t help employees who can’t afford to miss their overtime pay. Employees just don’t have the power to go toe to toe with a boss who says “Sign this.  You’re getting comp time now.”  They would sign an agreement to give away their overtime pay in a heartbeat to keep their jobs.

Even if you wanted comp time because of your situation, you wouldn’t necessarily get to take time off when you needed to take it.  Because you only get to use comp time within a reasonable time.  What is a reasonable time?  Well, we don’t know what that is.  The proposed law does say that employers can refuse to allow time of if it would disrupt the employer’s business.

 If you are protected by a union contract, the proposed law won’t affect you.  And some people cannot get overtime anyway because they are paid salary.  Plenty of people make claims that they are owed unpaid wages now.

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