Earlier this year, the United States House of Representatives approved a bill titled the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013. Specifically, this bill aimed to amend the overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to allow employers to offer compensatory time off in lieu of time and a half overtime pay. Though the bill was never signed into law, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate, titled the Family Friendly and Workplace Flexibility Act (S. 1626).
If approved, this bill would amend FLSA and allow private employers with 20 or more employees to give 1.5 hours time off for every hour of overtime worked. Supporters of the bill sell it as a way to give hard-working Americans more time to balance work and family. However, many employees rely on overtime wages in order to support their families. Replacing time and a half wages with compensatory time off may drastically decrease the overall wages earned, and therefore standard of living, of many employees across the United States.
Relationship to Minimum Wage Debate
Some political and employment policy experts believe that Republicans are trying to fast-track such an amendment to FLSA in light of the escalating debate regarding the national minimum wage. Democrats in both the House of Representatives and Senate have been actively proposing legislation to raise the national minimum wage for a couple of years. Furthermore, President Obama announced his support for a recent bill proposing an increase of the national minimum wage to $10.10. These proposals come on the heels of various employee walkouts and demands to be paid a living wage in the fast food and large retail industries. Research shows that if the federal minimum wage had increased along with inflation, it would be $10.74 per hour as opposed to the current $7.25 per hour.
Conservative politicians claim that increasing the minimum wage will cause employers to have to lay off workers because they will not be able to afford to pay existing employees a higher wage. It seems they have thus introduced the FLSA amendments to allow employers to avoid paying higher overtime wages for their employees. Though the title of the bill might initially lead American workers to support such a “family friendly” piece of legislation, the fine print may not print such a perfect picture. In fact, labor unions staunchly oppose the bill, as do many Democratic supporters of organized labor. Therefore, the bill is expected to fight an uphill battle in the Senate.
Oregonians enjoy one of the highest state minimum wages in the country at $8.95 per hour. If you believe your employer is violating state minimum wage or overtime compensation laws, contact the employment attorneys at HKM today.