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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Comp Time May Become Law


By Thomas Eden

The Working Families Flexibility Act, which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to allow private-sector companies to offer employees who are eligible for overtime the choice between being paid in cash for hours they work above 40 or accruing an hour and a half of paid time off, passed the United States House on Tuesday. Bill Sponsor Representative, Martha Roby of Alabama, claims it gives employers and employees flexibility in scheduling, which could increase employee satisfaction and retention. Currently, it is illegal under the FLSA for private employers to pay in comp time.

What Employers Need to Know
1)                  New OT Possibilities: the proposed legislation would enable nonunionized private employers to offer workers the option of accruing up to 160 hours of "comp time" for hours worked beyond 40 in a week. Employees would have to voluntarily agree, in writing, to such an arrangement and would be able to change their mind at any point, cash out their unused time off and return to a cash compensation structure for overtime. Employers can likewise stop offering comp time as an option at any point as long as they give workers 30 days’ notice of the change in policy. If employees’ accrued time goes unused at the end of any given year, companies have about 30 days to reimburse the workers in cash for that time.

2)                  To Qualify: employees would have had to work at least 1,000 hours — the equivalent of 25 continuous 40¬hour workweeks — in a 12-month period before they agree to any comp time arrangement. For employees that are represented by a union, any comp time policy an employer seeks to enact would be subject to collective bargaining

3)                  Employers can not directly or indirectly intimidate, threaten or coerce: employees must be free to choose the comp time option and can not be forced to use the time they have accrued. Employers also must permit workers to use their paid time off “within a reasonable period” after an employee makes a request as long as the use of that comp time “does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.”

4)                  Interactive Process: The law will create an interactive process between workers and employers that may ultimately leave workers more satisfied with their jobs. Creating clear policies for employees’ requests for paid time off and training management how to comply with laws before legal issues arise is highly advised, if the bill passes the Senate.

Common Sense Counsel: I am pleased to report that our local East Alabama Society of Human Resources Managers Chapter (EASHRM) has supported and championed Congressman Roby’s bill for 2 years during our one on one visits with the Alabama Congressional Delegation. If it becomes law, it will be a win-win for private employees and employers alike giving them flexibly, choices and higher satisfaction in the workplace. Stay tuned to see if the United States Senate gets the memo. 

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP offices in Opelika, AL and West Point, GA and can be contacted at teden@constangy.com or 334-246-2901 and blog at www.alabamaatwork.com