April 19th, 2013
HR supports assault on workers – approves employers overtime theft
Part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 created the policy that working more than 40 hours per week entitled workers to compensation at one and one-half their pay rate for each hour worked in overtime. Unions enjoy that benefit. Unionized workers can work overtime and accept “comp time” converted to paid time off at the 1.5 hour rate. Non-unionized workers do not have the same benefit.
Now comes the 2013 version of a bill introduced in the U.S. Congress since 1998, unabashedly mis-titled “Working Families Flexibility Act.” Chris Hayes of MSNBC (in the video above) calls it “Orwellian.” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) calls it a “cruel hoax on the American family.”
On April 11, the “Workforce Protections” Subcommittee of the House Education and Workforce Committee (called Education and Labor under Democratic chairmen) held a hearing on the bill, H.R. 1406. Read the text of the bill here.
The bill pretends to offer private sector employees the choice to work overtime and to request time off in the future in lieu of overtime pay. Overtime pays at the 1.5 per hour rate. Comp time accrued according to this bill will give 1 hour time off for 1 hour worked in overtime. In other words, employers get overtime work without having to pay for it. Also, the employee must request time. Employers can refuse to grant time off “if the use of the compensatory time does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.” It’s not hard to imagine how requests for time off will be routinely denied. If comp time cannot be taken, the employer simply pays the employee at the hourly (not overtime) rate.
This bill is an employer’s dream. Rep. Eric Cantor supports it and that tells me all I need to know about the underlying motives for the bill. And in case you don’t know the legislative positions of SHRM, the HR trade group, SHRM supports this bill and testified in support of it. Here’s a transcript of their testimony.
Testifying in opposition to the bill, Judith Lichtman, National Partnership for Women and Families, said:
This legislation would put workers at very real risk. An employee who does not accept comp time could find himself or herself penalized with fewer hours, non-preferred shifts and loss of overtime work. The employee’s “choice,” then, would be to accept comp time instead of needed pay or, if he or she reasonably asks for pay for overtime work and faces retaliation, try to fight it in court. That is an unrealistic expectation for workers who fear losing their jobs and have no resources with which to litigate.
Said Juanita Phillips, speaking on behalf of SHRM in support of the bill:
HR professionals are on the front lines of devising workplace strategies to create effective and flexible organizations. As such, SHRM and its members have given careful consideration to the role public policy can play in advancing the adoption of workplace flexibility. It is our strong belief that public policy must not hinder an employer’s ability to provide flexible work options. Rather, public policy should incentivize and enhance the voluntary employer adoption of workplace flexibility programs. We are please to support H.R. 1406 because it meets this important threshold.
You can download the text of testimony given at the Committee website.
This entry was posted on Friday, April 19th, 2013 at 10:11 am and is filed under Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.