The Senate is expected to vote soon on competing measures to boost the minimum
wage, legislation that would allow employers to offer flex-time, and a change that
would exempt more businesses from the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Associated
The Senate is set to consider a number of measures that have been attached as amendments
to legislation that would make changes to bankruptcy law.
Democrats, led by Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, are pushing a measure
that would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 in three increments over 26 months.
Republicans, led by Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, are proposing to
lift the minimum wage to $6.25 in two increments over 18 months.
Other aspects of Santorum's proposal are more controversial, the AP
notes. Santorum wants to allow employers to use flex-time, which would change
the threshold for determining if overtime wages must be paid from a 40-hour
span over one workweek to an 80-hour span over two workweeks.
Under current federal law, employers must pay overtime wages to employees who
work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Under Santorum's plan, employers would
be required to pay overtime if employees exceed 80 hours worked over a two-week
span. Therefore, employees would be able to work 50 hours in one workweek and
30 hours in the following workweek without the employer having to pay the overtime
Supporter's of flex-time, including President Bush, say it would make it easier
for workers to balance work and family responsibilities. Opponents say it would
mean an end to the 40-hour workweek, the AP reports.
Santorum also wants to boost the threshold for the small-business exemption
from the Fair Labor Standards Act, from $500,000 to $1 million, the news service