Overtime Pay Traded For Paid Time Off? Republicans Push For Choice

Overtime Pay Traded For Paid Time Off? Republicans Push For Choice

An overtime pay alternative would allow employees to trade the extra money for paid time off.

The idea by Republicans would offer more choice in addition to the current government-mandated benefits given to workers. Republicans say this idea is “an alternative to the mandated paid leave approaches that Democrats typically support. We believe it’s more appropriate to give employers the choice on whether they want to do this.”

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 requires employees receive time-and-a-half overtime pay for every hour over 40 within a standard 5-day work week. The Republican overtime pay proposal would allow workers to bank up to 160 hours, or four weeks, of comp time per year that could be used to take time off for any reason. This idea is similar to a government program that was implemented for public sector workers in 1985.

The overtime comp alternative bill would let an employee decide to cash out compensatory time at any time. The catch is that workers won’t receive time-and-a-half hours for their paid time off, so in effect they’re trading the extra cash for more time off. Employers are forbidden from coercing workers to take comp time instead of cash, although Democrats contend that employers might pressure workers into taking compensatory time off instead of overtime pay.

House Representative Martha Roby (R-AL), the bill’s chief sponsor, says, “For some people, time is more valuable than the cash that would be accrued in overtime. Why should public-sector employees be given a benefit and the private sector be left out?”

Phil Jones, an emergency medical technician who earns overtime frequently, believes the overtime pay alternative might be unfairly enforced by employers:

“Any time there’s a law that will keep extra money in an employer’s bank account, they will try to push employees to make that choice. I know how we get taken advantage of and I think this bill will just let employers take even more advantage of us.”

On the other hand, Karen DeLoach, a bookkeeper at an accounting firm, “I would greatly appreciate the option at work to choose between being compensated in dollars or days?”

What do you think about trading your overtime pay for paid time off?