What Does HR1180 Working Families Flexibility Act Mean for Business Owners?
In the midst of much political disagreement as of late under the new presidency, some confusion has arisen among the public about what some of the new bills going through Congress and Senate are really about. Seemingly, the two houses are working to overturn many of the policies set forth by the previous presidency, and there are concerns about whether or not these changes are worth the effort. One bill that is extremely controversial right now is HR1180, also known as the Working Families Flexibility Act. Many people are concerned about what HR1180 means for families, but there are also concerns about what it means for businesses. Here are some items to consider about HR1180.
Thought Process behind HR1180
First and foremost, HR1180 is intended to protect working families. The nature of working families has changed greatly since the 1970s, which marks a changing point from the stereotypical household arrangement of the 1950s and 1060s. During these two decades, most families survived off one parent’s salary with ease. Now, it takes both parents to work full-time or multiple part-time jobs in order to make ends meet.
HR1180 aims to make life a little easier for working families by taking some precautions against businesses and what they can and cannot do to their employees. It takes the phrase “there just aren’t enough hours in the day” and makes having enough time to work while raising a family a reality. HR1180 focuses on amending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1985 to give flexibility to public sector employees instead of the other way around. Here are some myths to consider and debunk about HR1180.
Myth 1: Workers Will Work More Hours for Less Pay
In truth, HR1180 works to protect employees’ time and wages. Businesses have to give their employees comp time for any overtime hours that are worked. Alternatively, employees can choose to accept payment for their overtime hours instead of simply being comped with some time off. In order for this to take place, a written agreement about comp time must be made between the business and all employees. Only the employee can withdraw their decision from this agreement in order to receive a cash payment instead of comp time.
It is important to note that any comp time received is acquired at the same right as time and a half, so they are a direct relation to the situation as if people were to accept a cash payment instead. At the same time, if an employee opts to have cash payments for their overtime, then the employer must provide payment for that time within 30 days the employee making the request to receive cash payments.
Myth 2: Employers Control How Comp Time is Used
This myth could not be rather from the truth. HR1180 will protect how employees choose to use their comp time. The only additive to this statement is that employees must give adequate time for requesting comp time to be used. Therefore, it cannot be used in a way that is disruptive to daily business activities. For example, a person cannot decide to call in sick one day to use their comp time. Instead, paid time off or sick days must be used for this purpose. However, people can opt to use their comp time for a few days off as if it were vacation time.
For businesses, HR1180 does provide protection for the misuse of comp time. Alternatively, employees have the right to consult agencies like the Department of Labor should they feel their employer has handled their comp time situation unfairly.
Myth 3: Employers Will Be Able to Force Employees to Use Comp Time
It is important to note that the use of comp time is voluntary. In short, this statement refers back to the acceptability of cash payment instead of comp time. Employers cannot force their employees to take comp time over a cash payment for overtime hours. Also, it is important to note that employers cannot threaten, intimidate, or coerce an employee into taking comp time over cash payments for overtime hours. Businesses found guilty of doing so will have to pay double to employees, both with comp time and with cash payments. These provisions can be handled through the Department of Labor.
Myth 4: HR1180 is Not a Replacement as Such Laws are Already in Place
HR1180 goes above and beyond the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Under the original provisions, employees have to make use of their comp time within the same pay period under which it was gained, or else it becomes lost. In short, comp time could not be used or accrued outside of one pay period or across multiple pay periods. HR1180 prevents this ruling from taking place by preventing employers from using such provisions.
Myth 5: Employers Can Cap the Amount of Comp Time an Employee Can Receive
Again, this myth is untrue. HR1180 denotes a cap of 160 hours of comp time maximum that an employee can use at their discretion, again so long as proper notice is given to the employer. However, businesses might be required to pay up to 80 of those hours in cash payments for overtime work instead of requiring that comp time is used.
Myth 6: Employers Must Offer Comp Time Benefits
Employers can decide to discontinue their comp time program across the board for all employees and simply go with cash payments for overtime worked. They have to give employees 30-days’ notice in order to do so. However, a collective bargaining agreement will prevent this decision from taking place unilaterally.
Myth 7: Once the Year Ends, All Comp Time Vanishes
Comp time cannot go unpaid or used. If an employee accrues comp time, then an employer is required to pay remaining hours in cash if they are not used by January 31 of the New Year. Therefore, comp time cannot be accrued from one year to the next, so long as the employer does not choose to do otherwise.
There are many concerns about how HR1180 will affect both employers and employees alike. In short, the Working Families Flexibility Act takes away some employer control over comp time regulation and gives much of the decisions process of how to use comp time over to employees. While this bill has passed the House, it has yet to go to the Senate for final decisions to be made.