HR expert: Flex time rule ‘has a chance’ to pass after debate

Written on May 18, 2017

By Gary Hunt, senior content editor

Single party rule in Washington means a plan to replace some overtime pay with comp time has a chance to pass – but it won’t happen without significant debate.

That’s the opinion of HR and Legal consultant Scott Warrick, JD, MLHR, CEQC, on the “Working Families Flexibility Act.” The House of Representatives on May 2 passed the bill, which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow private sector employees to “bank” overtime hours for later comp time use.

“There has been an argument for years that we should have comp time, and similar legislation has been introduced before,” Warrick said. “But this time you have a Republican in the White House, a Republican House and a Republican Senate. That makes all the difference in the world.”

The Senate is now considering the bill, and – as we discussed last week with health care reform – if it changes anything, the debate resumes in the House.

“Honestly, I think this is a lot easier topic than health care, and I think it’s got a pretty good chance of passing,” Warrick said. “It’s going to ping-pong back and forth between the House and the Senate a couple of times, and I think whatever goes to president Trump, he’ll sign it.”

House Resolution 1180 would be subject to limitations:

  • Employees must have worked for at least 1,000 hours for their employer during a continuous 12-month period.
  • Employees who want to bank hours must get a revocable written agreement from their employer.
  • Employees and employers both have options to force payout of accrued comp time.
  • Employees may not accrue more than 160 hours in their comp time banks.
  • Employees must receive pay for any accrued but unused comp time upon termination.

A companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, but legislators have not committed to a deadline to pass it.

Warrick issued a cautionary note for businesses that might be eager to see such a rule approved.

“This is not the great panacea a lot of employers think, because you’re adding to your debt,” he said. “If the employee has earned comp time, you haven’t felt the pain yet."

Each hour of overtime would be banked at time-and-a-half.

“CPAs are going to need to make sure they’re properly accounting for this. That person’s going to get time-and-a half off when they take that time off in the future, and then you’re going to have to pay somebody maybe time and a half to cover them.”

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