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March 17, 2003
Legislation Proposed that Would Allow Comp Time
Lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow hourly workers, through a voluntary agreement with their employer, to choose paid time off as compensation for working overtime hours, CBS MarketWatch reports.

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"For far too many women, inflexible work schedules prevent them from addressing family emergencies, attending teacher conferences, and dealing with the many family needs that arise unexpectedly throughout the course of a typical month or year," says U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL), vice chair of the Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, which has jurisdiction over wage and hour matters. "Family time will provide a powerful new tool to help working women balance the needs of their careers and families."

Most employees in the public sector have had the option to choose compensatory time in lieu of overtime pay since 1985, according to CBS MarketWatch. If passed, the legislation would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), extending that option to workers in the private sector. Proponents stressed that the changes would be voluntary.

"It would allow employers and employees to voluntarily plan when employees take time off - it would not be a mandate," says Director of labor-law policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Michael Eastman, in supporting the bill. "This gives employees more options to balance work and any personal needs."

The legislation also has protections for employees, including the option to cancel compensatory-time agreements at any time and a prohibition against coercion on the part of the employer. In addition, the bill limits the number of hours an employee can bank to 160.

President Bush has endorsed the concept of compensatory time, as did President Clinton before him, CBS MarketWatch reports.

"Employees in the public sector have enjoyed the benefits of 'family time' for 15 years," says Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. "The legislation introduced today will help all working people better balance the obligations of their jobs and families."


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