Legislation that would allow employees to choose paid time off work, or comp time, instead of overtime pay passed the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate.
The measure would allow employers to offer eligible employees the choice of receiving 1.5 hours of comp time for each hour worked over 40 hours in a week Employees also could accrue up to 160 hours of comp time in a year.
Under the bill employees would be eligible when they work at least 1,000 hours in a 12-month period, and each employee would have to agree in writing to participate in the program.
Even if it is ever enacted, the legislation would not apply to unionized employers.
Currently, federal law requires that covered private sector employers pay overtime for hours over 40 each week, unless employees come under one of the the law’s recognized exemptions.
Public sector employers already are allowed to offer comp time in lieu of overtime payments.
Proponents of the bill assert that it will provide employees with additional flexibility and improve their ability to maintain a good work-life balance.
The legislation has drawn strong opposition from unions, which makes it less likely that it will pass the Senate because eight Democrat votes are needed before it can be sent to President Trump’s desk.
Those votes are not likely to be forthcoming in view of the fact that the measure passed in the House with no House Democrats voting for it.
In the absence of similar changes to state laws, the bill also might have only limited practical impact, notes attorney Christopher R. Lepore of the law firm of Akerman LLP.
In states where minimum wage and overtime laws don’t permit substitution of comp time for overtime, employers would still be required to pay time-and-a-half hour overtime even if the bill passes.