Would You Rather Have Overtime Pay or Time Off?

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The U.S. House favors a bill that would allow employees who work overtime to bank the extra hours to take off later in the year.

The Working Families Flexibility Act would change the way overtime pay has worked since 1938.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of that year, covered employees who work more than 40 hours per week get time-and-a-half pay for additional hours.

If the act becomes law, employees could instead choose to bank those extra hours to take off later. Basically, it would let employees trade extra pay for vacation time.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., says that “it puts parents over politics,” The Associated Press reported. But critics say it’s just a way to save employers money, not help employees.

Let’s look at the pros and cons. On the bright side, the bill would:

  • Let workers save up to 160 hours of paid time off per year.
  • Not require a reason for taking time off.
  • Let workers cash in unused time at the end of the year.
  • Allow workers to keep taking overtime instead.

On the other hand, Mother Jones points out some risks:

  • Employers might pressure employees to opt in to banking their extra time.
  • The hours could only be used with employer approval.
  • Employers would get 30 days to pay employees who cash in their hours.
  • Workers who didn’t get their money wouldn’t be able to complain to the Department of Labor anymore and would have to get a lawyer instead.

We’ve written before that many people would give up part of their salary for a more flexible schedule. But does this deal sound fair? It seems to let employers decide when they want to be flexible, and keep the extra pay while they think about it.

The question may not matter, since the U.S. Senate is not likely to pass the bill and President Obama has threatened to veto it over a lack of employee protections. Still, we’re curious what you think: Let us know on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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