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.
"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
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."