Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Flexibility for Working Families Proposed

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Flexibility for Working Families Proposed

Article excerpt

Have you heard about the Working Families Flexibility Act? Rep. Bill Goodling, R-Pa., has introduced it to remove obstacles in federal law that prevent many employers from providing increased flexibility to employees.

Congressional hearings were held recently on this act and the activity surrounding this bill is brisk.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, enacted in 1938, is a straightjacket on work schedules. The Working Families Flexibility Act would give private-sector employers the "option" of offering employees the choice of opting for paid time off as compensation for working overtime hours. No federal mandates are involved. Public sector employers and employees have long enjoyed this flexibility. The Fair Labor Standards Act allows Congress to provide flexible benefits for employees. However, the private sector can't. Why can't Congress impose the same laws to both the private and the public sectors? I thought in the last session of Congress this major issue was solved. The Working Families Flexibility Act would allow employees to choose through a written agreement with their employer, entered into knowingly and voluntarily by the employee, to receive paid time off in lieu of cash wages for overtime hours. A compensatory time agreement may not be a condition of employment. Compensatory time is earned at the same rate as cash overtime pay -- 12 hours for each hour of overtime. Employees could accrue up to 240 hours of compensatory time each year. An employer would pay cash wages for any unused, accrued time at the end of the year. Employees who want to receive cash wages would continue to receive wages for their overtime. Seventy-five percent of respondents in a Penn and Schoen Associates national opinion poll favor allowing employees to choose between receiving paid time off or cash wages for overtime. A 1994 U.S. Department of Labor report found that the number one concern for 66 percent of working women with children under the age of 18 is the difficulty of balancing work and family responsibilities. …

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