Is the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 Good for Workers or Not?

This week I spoke with my Workforce Institute colleagues Sue Meisinger and Andy Brantley about the Working Families Flexibility Act currently making its way through Congress.  If passed, this Act would enable private sector employers to offer comp time in lieu of overtime pay to their hourly workers.  This has been the case for public sector employees since 1985.

This change would represent a significant change to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for private sector employers and workers, and the bill has generated a lot of public debate about whether passage of this Act is good or bad for those workers.  Proponents believe this Act will provide workers with needed flexibility.  Detractors believe this is ultimately an anti-worker bill that will result in employers avoiding overtime pay that their workers are due.

Both Sue and Andy have given this legislation a fair amount of consideration in recent weeks. Andy testified before Congress in support of the bill, and Sue wrote about it in this week’s HRE online.   Both are skeptical it will ultimately become law. During our conversation, we discussed the following questions:

  • Does the Act give workers flexibility in trading overtime for comp time or does it further erode protections previously given to America’s workers by robbing them of overtime pay as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act?
  • Unions have come out against the bill – why?
  • Whether this bill passes or not, what are best practices employers can use to provide better flexibility to working families?

You can download and listen to a podcast of our conversation here:

Discussion with Andy Brantley and Sue Meisinger about the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013

If you’d like to learn more about the Act, you can find a collection of supporting documents here.

You may also want to check in on the objections cited by detractors in articles from the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and The Atlantic.

What do you think?  Take our poll and let us know.

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4 thoughts on “Is the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 Good for Workers or Not?

  1. Back in the 1990s, I was Editor of a small, unionized newspaper in Montana. The No. 1 issue for my employees there? They wanted the flexibility to be able to take comp time in lieu of overtime.

    In fact, it was such a big issue that it was a key element in my newsroom employees deciding to de-certify the union because the union opposed any comp time flexibility with overtime at all.

    Twenty-some years later, in a much different but much more flexible workplace environment, in makes me wonder — why would we not want to give workers more flexibility to manage their lives the way they see fit? The Working Families Flexibility Act seems to do that.

    My employees in Montana recognized this a long time ago, and it is a pretty simple concept: giving workers more flexibility to better deal with the stresses and strains of life is ultimately a good thing. Add in the fact that workers more and more EXPECT greater workplace flexibility, and you can see that this is a concept whose time has come.

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