Employers are generally well aware that they must comply with the main requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), requiring that (1) employees be paid at least minimum wage and (2) employees be paid at a rate of one and one half times their hourly wage for all worked in excess of 40 in a week. However, if some members of Congress have their way, this longstanding rule may be changed.
In the latest wave of new proposed legislation, the House Rules Committee announced that it will meet to discuss debate over a Republican sponsored bill that would add a new wrinkle to the FLSA. The billed, called the “Working Families Flexibility Act,” would permit employers to offer paid time off as an alternative to time and one half overtime wages. At the end of April, just before the House Rules Committee announced its plan to meet, the House Education and Workforce Committee approved the bill according to a vote which fell strictly along party lines.
If the Act, which would amend the FLSA, becomes law, an option would be created whereby employers and employees could voluntarily agree to one and one half hours of paid time off for every overtime hour worked. The bill proposes capping the number of leave hours under the amendment at 160. Under the current version of the bill, all requested time off would be subject to employer approval.
Republican proponents of the bill laud it as providing flexibility to workers at a time when rigid schedules make workers’ ability to meet all of their personal obligations more difficult. Democrats, opposing the bill, expressed concern that providing such an option would permit employers to coerce their workers into choosing paid time off over increased pay for overtime hours.
A version of the bill currently in the Senate was recently referred to the Senate Health, Education and Labor Pensions Committee, with further action to follow in the coming weeks. Notwithstanding these developments, employers should remain mindful of their obligations to comply with the FLSA in its current form. The Administration has expressed support, in principle, for the proposed flexible option in the Working Families Flexibility Act.
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If you have questions related to employment law call Mark J. Berkowitz P.A. at (954) 527-0570 for assistance.