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Jackson Cit Pat: Private-sector workers should have option to receive paid time off for working overtime

April 21, 2014
Opinion Editorial

Balancing the needs of work and family can be tough. A job is necessary to provide for the needs of your household while families also require your time and attention. 

While there will never be a perfect formula for the work/life balance, one key lies in giving workers the flexibility to make the right choice for themselves, and their families.

Many employers already provide flexible hours for workers and technology has made it easier to adjust schedules so that they benefit both employee and employer. 

However, some of our workforce laws have not kept up with the changing nature of the workplace.

In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law. Among other provisions, the law requires that covered employees be paid "time and a half" for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours a week. 

Unfortunately, the law does not fit all 21st century workers' needs. While many employees would love the ability to earn extra money for their family, others wish they had the flexibility to earn paid time off or "comp time" instead. 

This time could be used to take an elderly parent to the doctor, or watch their child perform in the school play. 

State and local government employees currently enjoy this flexibility, but federal law doesn't give the same option to workers in the private sector. This is unfair and limits workers' ability to balance the needs of both their family and work.

House Republicans recognized the problem at hand and in response, we've offered and passed a common-sense solution entitled the Working Families Flexibility Act. 

Our proposal allows employees to choose either cash wages or comp time for overtime hours worked. 

The bill retains all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40 hour work week and how overtime compensation is accrued. 

And we've added new employee protections as well, such as making the use of comp time completely voluntary and allowing workers to cash out their comp time whenever they choose to do so.

At its core, the Working Families Flexibility Act provides more options. By giving working families and employers the voluntary option to receive paid time off for working overtime hours, workers can choose to do what is best for their family while still being protected from never being obligated to choose one option over the other.

I believe in order to have a healthy economy and grow jobs the government must promote policies that encourage success at home and in the workplace. 

With the comp time option, workers can best fulfill their vocational and familial needs. A similar policy has been in place in the public sector for almost 30 years. After nearly a year of consideration, it's time for the Senate to take up and pass this sensible legislation to help make life work better for hard-working Americans across Michigan and the country.

 To read the original article at the Jackson Cit Pat, please click here.