Republicans are close to killing overtime rules, allowing "employers to cheat workers" of pay

The House just passed an important bill that scraps paid overtime for optional "comp time"

Published May 3, 2017 5:10PM (EDT)

 (AP/Paul Sancya)
(AP/Paul Sancya)

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that allows employers to give their employees paid time off when they put in extra hours, rather than overtime pay. Overtime wages are typically time-and-a-half. The bill was passed along party lines for the most part. Not a single Democratic representative voted in favor of the bill, and only six Republicans voted against it.

Republicans argue that the bill, the Working Families Flexibility Act, gives employers more flexibility and choice over how they are compensated for their time.

"I don't think there's anything more powerful than giving them more control over their time so that they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families," Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a press conference, according to CNN.

President Trump supports the legislation and is expected to sign albeit the bill stays in its current form. The bill would prohibit employers from making employees take time off instead of overtime pay, according to the White House.

Democrats staunchly oppose the bill, arguing that employers will have the final say and that employers' overtime payments will be deferred.

“Under current law, if an employee wants to work overtime, put the money in the bank where it can earn interest and use it to cover the cost of taking some time off later with the permission of the employer, he can do that today — without this bill," Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., explained on the House floor, according to the Washington Post.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called the legislation a "disgrace" on her twitter account. Warren has put worker's rights at the top of her agenda and is recently wrote a book about how the middle-class is under siege.

“The choice between overtime pay and comp time is a false choice for workers," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said, according the Post. “We know what happens in the reality of the workplace. The vague promise of time off in the future is often never realized."

The Post reported:

Similar bills have been introduced multiple times over the past two decades, passing the House three times before failing in the Senate. Although its fate is unclear in the Senate this year, the White House said Tuesday that it supports the bill, saying in a statement that it would “help American workers balance the competing demands of family and work by giving them flexibility to earn paid time off."

By Charlie May

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Elizabeth Warren Gop House Of Representatives Republicans Working Families Flexibility Act