Head Smacker: Misnamed “Working Families Flexibility Act” Would Give Workers Less Flexibility, Less Time and Less Pay


July 15, 2015

headsmacker_sqBills in Congress are named by those who write them, which means the name can sound good even if the bill actually does the opposite of what the title implies. That’s the case with the Working Families Flexibility Act. It sounds like a good thing, right? Families would get more flexibility, and who doesn’t want that? Don’t let the name fool you, though.
A fact sheet from the National Partnership for Women & Families lays out all the ways in which this bill is a bad deal for workers. It claims to give hourly workers more flexibility by allowing them to choose paid time off, or “comp time,” for working more than 40 hours a week instead of getting paid overtime. However, NPWF Working Families Flexibility Act Fact Sheetworkers aren’t guaranteed they’ll be able to take the time off when they need it, even in the case of an emergency. The bill would also allow employers to decide, without consulting employees, to pay workers for any earned comp time banked beyond 80 hours, taking time away from a worker who might have been counting on using it for the birth of a child or a surgery. And, workers who count on overtime pay to make ends meet would be left struggling with even less money than before. CHN and many other groups signed on to the National Partnership’s letter to members of Congress opposing this head-smacking bill.

Instead of bad deals with good-sounding names, America’s workers need real family-friendly policies like the Healthy Families Act and the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act,  which would give all workers the time off they need when they need it, including time to take care of their own illness, a family member’s illness, or the birth or adoption of a child.

The hourly workers who would be adversely affected by the so-called Working Families Flexibility Act aren’t the only ones who should be paid for working overtime. The White House’s recently-proposed rule change to extend overtime protections to workers making up to $50,440 would benefit nearly 5 million “exempt” workers, while helping our economy, too. Women, African Americans, Latinos, workers under 35, and workers with lower levels of education in this “exempt” category would benefit the most. As our 5 Things to Know about Fixing the Overtime Rule post from earlier this month noted, updating the overtime rule is long overdue. Want more information on the rule? Watch the short video from the Department of Labor below.

The Department of Labor is taking comments on the proposed rule from the public through Sept. 4, and they’ll use that input to determine what to include in the final rule next year. To share your thoughts on the proposed rule with DOL, go here and click on “Comment Now! Need help with what to say? Check out the Partnership’s sample language here.

The proposed overtime rule may not have a great name, but it’s a good move for America’s workers.

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Working Families Flexibility Act