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Capitol Hill Update

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Last week, Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY, pictured) introduced S. 1626, the Family Friendly and Workplace Flexibility Act of 2013. This SHRM-supported legislation to allow for compensatory time for private-sector hourly employees is similar to H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act that passed the House of Representatives on May 8, 2013.

SHRM supports this legislation to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow private employers to offer compensatory time off to hourly employees at a rate of 1.5 hours per hour of overtime worked instead of pay for overtime, should the employee prefer the time off. This option would be completely voluntary for both employers and employees.

Key provisions of the bill include:

--  Provides employers the option to offer paid-time off instead of cash payments for overtime hours worked.
--  Gives employees the choice to elect comp time instead of overtime payments if the employer offers such a program.
--  Allows employees to accrue 1 1/2 hours of paid time off for each hour of overtime worked.
--  Prohibits employers from intimidating or coercing employees into a comp time arrangement.
--  Allows employees to use the comp time at their discretion, unless the time off unduly disrupts the business operations of the employer—the same standard the public sector has used for 30 years.
--  Allows employees to opt out of the comp time arrangement at any time and receive cash payments for banked hours.
--  Requires employers to cash out any unused comp time at year’s end.

In addition to allowing for comp time in the private sector, S. 1626 would establish a Flexible Credit Hour Program that would give part-time employees a way to bank hours to use later. As a voluntary option both for employers and employees, a flexible credit hour program to  allow an employee to work excess hours (any hours worked beyond the number of hours an employee is required to work within a specified timeframe) in his/her schedule in order to accrue hours to be taken off at a later time. Employees could accrue up to 50 flexible credit hours.

SHRM supports public-policy proposals (including S. 1626 and H.R. 1406) that encourage, rather than require, employers to provide workplace flexibility options to support employees’ work/life needs. Over 380 HR professionals will be advocating in support of S. 1626 during in-person visits with their legislators during the upcoming SHRM Leadership Conference Hill Day scheduled for Nov. 21, 2013.

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