233-204. That was the final tally that passed the Working Families Flexibility Act in the House of Representatives. The Working Families Flexibility Act would touch private-sector Washington state employees as well as private-sector employees nationwide. The crux of the Republican-backed bill is fairly simple: employees would be able to receive “comp” time instead of overtime pay for work over 40 hours in a given week. That comp time could then be used for time with employees’ family rather than spending it at work. Or at least in theory.
“This is about helping working moms and dads, providing the ability to commit time at home. This is something that the public sector has engaged in for many many years. If it’s good enough for the federal government, it ought to be good enough for the private sector,” TheHuffington Post Post quotes, Republican Martha Roby.
For their part, House Democrats have called the act “More Work, Less Pay Act.”
So what is the Working Families Flexibility Act really all about?
It is supposed to be about spending time away from work and with family. The more obvious problems with the Act have to do with the details: employees do not get to decide when they get the comp time off and also concerns about whether there would be proper monitoring to ensure that employees are given the option between overtime and company. What side the Senate falls on this matter will be revealed in the coming months.
For now, let’s focus on Washington overtime.
Overtime is an important source of income for many Washington families. The extra time and a half compensation that comes with any work done over 40 hours in a week is sometimes the difference between making rent and not making rent. Unfortunately many Washington employees have issues collecting the correct amount of overtime pay from their employers. Unpaid overtime can sometimes be the result of a clerical mistake by the employer but the majority of these cases are intentional omissions by an employer, with a profit motive behind it. Not paying employees their correct overtime compensation is against the law in Washington. Without a doubt, the majority of Washington employees put in this situation cite things like fear of retaliation orlosing their jobs as their reasons for not reporting this issue immediately.
We hope you do not feel this sense of hopelessness. If you fall into this unpaid overtime category, you should get in touch with a Washington employment law attorney to discuss your situation. In most instances, the results you want can be reached without having to go to trial. You should always keep a personal log of the hours you work as a “backup,” especially for those of you that feel like your employer may have some questionable timekeeping practices in play. This can become a valuable piece of evidence if, in fact, you are being denied your correct overtime. As for the fate of the Working Families Flexibility Act and how it affect Washington employees (if passed), we will certainly keep you posted.