The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that will allow companies to stop paying their workers overtime for every extra hour worked. Instead, employers will be able to reward their hard-working personnel with paid time off.
Controversial Overtime Bill Heading to Senate
House Republicans passed the bill along party lines with zero Democrats casting a favorable vote. Half a dozen Republicans voted against the measure. Republican leaders claim the Working Families Flexibility Act would give workers and their families more flexibility.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers told reporters that employers should have more control over their time so they can be able to hit the right work-family balance. Rodgers called the new bill a “powerful” tool for U.S. workers.
The White House also praised the new legislation. On Tuesday, a Trump spokesperson said the advisers to the president agree that the commander in chief should sign the measure if it landed on his desk in its current form.
Democrats, on the other hand, do not share the enthusiasm. They are concerned that employers would concoct restrictive rules regarding when or how their employees can use comp time, which means compensation for overtime work could be postponed or lost.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.- Mass.) called the bill a “disgrace” for the American worker.
With working families across the country scraping to make ends meet, Congress should strengthen protections for workers – not gut them.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 2, 2017
Sen. Patty Murray (D. – Wash.) agrees that the new legislation doesn’t put workers’ interests first. She said the ‘recycled’ bill would allow corporations postpone the compensation for workers who put in extra hours.
The GOP has tried to pass similar measures several times over the last two decades, but they failed to turn them into legislation. The last time a similar bill was approved by the House was in 2013, but fortunately, it was killed in the Senate.
It is unlikely the bill will make it this time, as the GOP has only 52 votes in the Senate and they’ll need at least eight Democrats to get it across. If they fail, Democrats can block the process through a filibuster.
New Law Has Drawn Sharp Criticism
Critics of the proposed law noted that employees would get an hour and a half paid time off instead of time-and-a-half pay for overtime work. The measure has been tremendously popular in the public sector as a method to trim labor costs.
Workers advocates are concerned the ‘flexibility’ bill would eventually erode the 40-hour workweek and expose employees to more workplace exploitation. Current rules discourage private sector employers to overwork their staffers as they have to pay a premium beyond those 40 hours.
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