November 4 2013
Women Deserve to Decide Whether They Want More Pay or More Flexibility
Carrie L. Lukas
It’s hard to take one’s eyes off of the train wreck of ObamaCare implementation, but there actually are other issues being considered in Washington. In fact, there’s even some actual good news coming out of the Senate, where Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Kelly Ayote (R-NH) introduced legislation that would make it easier for hourly employees to opt for flex-time rather than over-time pay.
I blogged about this legislation – and the contrived attacks against it by critics – when it was introduced in the House this spring.
What I find so amazing is that the legislation actually needs to be introduced. Currently under federal law (the Fair Labor Standards Act) it is illegal for employers to offer hourly employees time off rather than extra pay for working overtime. That means that hourly workers (who usually earn less than those on salary) also have fewer options and less flexibility that their salaried co-workers. How is this fair?
Sometimes I think it’s instructive to imagine what we would think if a law went in the other direction. Imagine if right now employees had the option of flextime and someone proposed legislation to take that choice away, so that hourly workers were required to take extra pay and couldn’t opt for more time off.
Wouldn’t Americans all recognize that this was an incredibly unfair measure that would disproportionately harm lower-income women? Wouldn’t women object to the idea that the federal government has any business telling you that you are better off with more money in your pocket than more flexibility to take care of your kids? Feminists would be outraged. Some might even call it a war on women….
And yet here we are, the government has made up a bunch of rules governing how employers operate and any change to them, no matter how modest, is tarred as a giveaway to big business and exploitation of workers.
Maybe Americans—recently schooled in the hollowness of so much political rhetoric—are waking up and recognizing that more government isn’t always the answer. One can hope.