May 9 2013
Carrie L. Lukas
It’s good news that the House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act yesterday, though it’s unlikely to get much farther or become law so long as Democrats control the Senate and the White House.
As I wrote before, this is a modest measure to loosen existing workplace regulations and give hourly workers the option to receive comp-time, instead of extra pay, for hours worked in excess of a 40 hour week.
There’s something interesting about the criticism of this Act, such as described in this Business Journal article. Rep. Hoyer worries that employers will favor employees who opt for comp-time instead of paid over-time as a cost-cutting measure: “the employer will invariably -- not because they are bad people, but will invariably -- go to the person that will in fact do it for free.”
On one level, Rep. Hoyer is misrepresenting what the Act does: Over-time won’t be “for free” since paid-time off clearly has great value to workers. Scheduling time and a half off seems to create a challenge and impose a cost for employers that is just about equal to that of paying time-and-a-half for overtime worked. It’s not clearly to me why we would assume that employers will all overwhelmingly prefer that their workers take comp-time.
Yet there’s something interesting in Rep. Hoyer’s warning that Democrats ought to linger on. Certainly there are employers who are today reacting to new laws by changing how many hours they give workers. That law is ObamaCare. Indeed, many major employers are scrambling to reduce workers' hours so they are not required to provide unaffordable health benefits. Indeed, many workers who, as Hoyer describes, really need those hours and extra money are seeing their work weeks' chopped and losing much needed income as a result. This employment impact of ObamaCare is one in a very long list of why this law should be completely repealed.
Will Rep. Hoyer be championing that bill in the name of protecting workers' hours?