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Capitol Hill Update

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On Thursday, April 11, SHRM member Juanita Phillips of Huntsville, Ala., testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections in support of H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013. In her prepared statement, Phillips shared that the proposed bill would promote workplace flexibility by allowing compensatory (comp) time in the private sector.

“The concept of giving employees the choice to select paid time off in lieu of cash wages is nothing new -- it has been an option widely available to federal employees for 35 years,” said Phillips. “By all accounts, it has worked well.” Phillips (pictured at left with the bill's sponsor, Alabama Representative Martha Roby). is director of human resources at Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation and a member of both the North Alabama SHRM chapter and the Alabama State Council. She is also an Advocacy Captain within SHRM’s A-Team program.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 requires that hours of work by non-exempt employees beyond 40 hours in a seven-day period be compensated at a rate of 1 ½ times the employee’s regular rate of pay. In 1978, Congress passed the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act, which changed the FLSA to allow compensatory time for federal employees. In 1985, comp time was extended to include state and local agencies and their employees. H.R. 1406 would simply extend this important benefit to the private sector.

The Working Families Flexibility Act would amend the FLSA to allow private-sector employers to provide compensatory time to employees. Employees would have the choice of taking overtime in cash payments, as they do today, or in the form of paid time off from work. Just as with overtime payments, paid time off would accrue at a rate of 1 ½ hours for each hour of overtime worked. Employees would be able to accrue up to 160 hours of comp time per year, although an employer could choose to “cash out” the comp time after 80 hours after providing the employee with 30 days of notice. An employer would also be required to cash out any unused comp time at year’s end at the regular time and a half rate.

The increased diversity and complexity of the American workforce is driving the need for more flexible workplace solutions, like H.R. 1406. SHRM supports the bill and is leading the employer coalition championing the legislation because it would provide employers with an additional workplace flexibility tool to help employees meet their work-life needs.

On Wednesday, April 17, the full House Education and the Workforce Committee is scheduled to consider and vote on the Working Families Flexibility Act. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has indicated the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1406 in April. A SHRM Member Advocacy Alert will be launched soon to encourage HR professionals to contact their House members in support of H.R. 1406.

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