Could overtime pay be replaced with paid time off?

Work Overtime - PTO

Should Employees Get Time Off Instead of Overtime?

PTO instead of overtime sounds great initially, but H.R. 1180, or the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017, has much of the country up in arms about what it means for private-sector employees.

Put simply, the bill allows employers to compensate hourly employees working overtime with vacation instead of cash at time-and-a-half, as the Fair Labor Standards Act currently requires. It also allows employers to dictate when employees can take that time off; and if employees schedule overtime work, employers can delay payment for up to 13 months.

The bill passed largely along party lines, supported by Republicans in the House with no Democratic support. Additionally, after years of veto threats from President Obama, the current Administration has pledged support for the bill, which gives it hope to pass in the Senate.

Isn’t Paid Time Off a Good Thing?

Under the current version, there is no guarantee that employees would be able to take time off when they requested it. If employers feel that it would be unduly disruptive to their work schedule, the request can be denied.

However, the current Administration claims that this bill will allow families the flexibility to “balance the competing demands of family and work by giving them flexibility to earn paid time off—time they can later use for any reason, including family commitments like attending school appointments and caring for a sick child.”

What it Really Means for Overtime Workers

According to the Economic Policy Institute, many workers rely on their overtime pay in order to pay bills. By removing this type of payment, employees will have to work longer hours to make ends meet, which ultimately means less time with their families. Not only does the bill reduce worker income, but it does it under the guise of “family friendliness.”

Strip away the layers and you will see that H.R. 1180 does nothing to improve upon its parent, the Fair Labor Standards Act. It does not provide paid leave, paid sick days, fairer scheduling or paid vacation. However, “It does undermine the Fair Labor Standards Act and the norm of a 40-hour work week by giving a new right to employers: the right not to pay for overtime hours when the overtime is worked.”

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