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FSA Photo: Women punching time clock
04.18.03
Politics and Economy:
Working Overtime
More on This Story:
Family Time Flexibility Act Overview

In her opening statement before the Committee on Education and the Workforce on April 9 concerning H.R. 1119, the Family Time Flexibility Act, Rep. Judy Biggert urged committee members to support the bill. Biggert explained her position:

What the bill does do is two things: it gives employees more choices, and it gives employers another option to make their employees happy. The concept is a very simple one: if workers have to work overtime, they should be allowed to choose how they will be compensated — with more money or more time off. And if employers want to offer another way to keep their employees happy, they can offer them the option of taking time and a half off in lieu of time and a half pay for hours worked overtime.

But not everyone sees the issue in these simple terms. The debate over this bill raises the decades-old question of how the nation balances the needs of business with the lives of workers. Read some of the arguments that have been made by proponents and opponents of the Family Time Flexibility Act.

In Support of H.R. 1119Opposed to H.R. 1119
"Employees have consistently asked for the right to choose paid time off instead of overtime pay if it best fits the needs of their family."

- House Education & the Workforce Committee, "Myth vs. Fact" Fact Sheet

"It's gonna result in less time for people to have with those families and less income to support those families..."

- Rep. John F. Tierney (D-MA)

"Modernizing the law is long overdue.... Those who prefer the old system won't have to give it up, but those who place a greater value on flexibility as they balance work and family will have more options than current law allows."

- Sandy Boyd, National Association of Manufacturers

With 500,000 employers going out of business in a given year, workers are at a great risk of losing the value of their accumulated time. Private sector employers are less likely to have union representation, leaving them more vulnerable to coercion.

- Economic Policy Institute

"It gives each employee the ability to make this choice for him or herself, based on his or her own personal priorities — not those of the federal government or a 1938 wage-and-hour law."

- Charlie Norwood, Chairman, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections

"If family flexibility is the goal, Congress could work within existing legislation to increase the minimum wage, prohibit mandatory overtime, and provide paid family leave. These provisions would offer workers the compensation and opportunity for control of their time that the Family Time Flexibility Act promises but does not deliver."

- 9to5, National Association of Working Women

"Today, a greater percentage of employees who work overtime are women, there are more dual-wage earner couples in the workforce, and there are more single mothers in the workforce. These demographic changes in the workforce are a major reason why today many more employees view time off as valuable or more valuable than cash payments for overtime work.

- Houston L. Williams, PNS, Inc.

This bill mostly covers low-wage workers who choose to work overtime in order to pay their monthly bills and cannot wait until the end of the year to be paid for the hours they work each month. Workers who opt for pay rather than comp time will likely be scheduled for less overtime and therfore, bring home less money.

- AFL-CIO

"It's not a bottom line issue for business. It's not going to help the profit line of businesses."

- Randel Johnson, United States Chamber of Commerce

Employers will benefit from the extra hours worked and from being able to wait months before compensation must be paid. In effect, this bill turns employee overtime into an interest-free loan to their bosses. Also, employers will no longer have a financial disincentive to increase overtime hours.

- Economic Policy Institute

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