Mary is the only wage-earner in her household. She supports her two children and her elderly mother with her hourly job. Sometimes she has to work overtime. Right now Washington is fighting over how to compensate her for that time.
Hourly workers are currently entitled to overtime pay: they must receive 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for any time they work over 40 hours in a week. A federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, guarantees that right.
Employers have two legal ways to control wage costs, both of which protect employees. One is to spread work around, so fewer people have to work overtime and people working less than full-time get the chance to work 40 hours a week. The other is to hire more people so the employer doesn’t have to make any employees work more than 40 hours in a week.
That was part of the intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act: it creates an incentive for employers to hire more workers, which reduces unemployment, and it creates a disincentive to prevent forcing employees to work too many hours.
The Republicans have created a proposal to change the Fair Labor Standards Act….. It’s called the “Working Families Flexibility Act” (WFFA, H.R. 1406 in Congress), and it would give employers the choice of compensating employees for overtime either with overtime pay or with comp time.
They are branding WFFA as a gift to working moms, rolling out an ad campaign on mommy blogs promising them more choice in setting their schedule and more freedom to change it for unexpected emergencies, like a child’s sudden illness. Mommies, the Republicans are saying, if you have more time, you can manage that work/life balance problem we keep hearing about. […]