House GOP Passes Comp Time Bill to Highlight Its Softer Side

Democrats say the Working Families Flexibility Act is a rip-off.

Posted: 05/08/2013 06:57 PM EDT

Are House Republicans trying to perpetrate a fraud? Democrats certainly think so. The GOP majority on Wednesday passed the Working Families Flexibility Act by 223 to 204. The legislation, its proponents say, allows private-sector employers the "flexibility" to offer compensation days in lieu of overtime to workers who put in more than 40 hours a week.

"This is about helping working moms and dads, providing the ability to commit time at home," Rep. Martha Roby (R-Alabama), a sponsor of the bill, said before the vote.

But according to Congressional Black Caucus chair Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), that is so not true.

"What it does ultimately is take away resources from people who need it. They claim that they're giving an option, which is really a false option," she told reporters. "If indeed you want to take comp time instead of overtime it is still up to the discretion of the employer when you can take the comp time. And then if you can't take it when you need it, you don't have the option to go back and say pay me for the time."

Employers can take up to a year to monetarily compensate workers for accrued comp time, making the legislation, Fudge says, a "sleight of hand."  

The "More Work, Less Pay Act," as liberals have dubbed it, has no chance in the Senate. In addition, the White House indicated earlier this week that it would veto such a measure because it weakens protections in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

So, what's the point?

Rep. Karen Bass (D-California) says it's something Republicans introduce every few years in an effort to eliminate the eight-hour workday and cut wages.

"It is packaged this time under the guise of flexibility, but it has nothing to do with [that]," she said in an interview with BET.com. "Essentially it would allow an employer to work a person over eight hours and not compensate them. The idea that they can use that comp time when they want is completely false, because it's up to the employer to say."

House Republicans hope that voters that have traditionally supported Democrats will see the bill as proof that they, too, are caring. But Texas Rep. Al Green  (D-Texas) thinks it makes them look kind of clueless.

In these hard times, he wondered, who wants to give up time-and-a-half?

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(Photo: Jim Baron/MCT /LANDOV)

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