Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) today voted against H.R. 1403–legislation that would allow private employers to avoid paying overtime wages to employees working more than 40 hours per week if they offer their employees "comp" time off instead.
The bill is officially named the "Working Families Flexibility Act," but critics have renamed it the "More Work, Less Pay Act," highlighting that the legislation increases burdens on working families living paycheck to paycheck.
Bonamici spoke against the bill on the House floor. "If this bill becomes law, a single mom living paycheck to paycheck could work more than 40 hours a week and receive no overtime pay in her paycheck. She still has to pay the babysitter for the extra hours on the job, and she has no guarantee that she'll be able to take 'comp' time off when she needs it. She would have to accept the days off her employer offers, or else wait up to a year to receive the pay that's rightfully hers."
Although the legislation provides employees with the option of choosing overtime pay instead of comp time, the bill lacks any provisions to accommodate a worker's schedule. Bonamici and others also argued this would allow employers to offer overtime hours only to employees more likely to choose comp time, closing off an important income stream to working families.
Bonamici highlighted a flawed provision of the bill that allows employers to delay overtime pay for up to a year with no requirement that the pay be placed in an interest-bearing account. When the bill was considered by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Bonamici offered an amendment to require that pay be escrowed and later paid with interest, but her amendment was defeated.