The White House is threatening to veto a Republican bill that would essentially rewrite a 75-year-old law guaranteeing the right to overtime compensation to allow employers to offer unpaid "comp time" for extra hours on the job.
The House is scheduled to vote this week on the Working Families Flexibility Act, which would lift the requirement from the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that most private-sector workers get paid for overtime, rather than accept compensatory, or comp time.
Republican supporters of the measure say that comp time is a perk enjoyed by government employees for the past 30 years, but has been denied to private-sector hourly workers.
"We want to get Washington out of the way of how people use their time," GOP Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama, chief sponsor of the bill, told reporters at a press briefing Tuesday. "This is about choice. This is about flexibility."
"If this is good enough for government employees, why isn't it good enough for the private sector?” she said.
The Obama administration and House Democrats disagree, arguing the bill would allow employers to cut overtime hours and reduce the take-home pay of workers who currently have the right to overtime compensation.
“This legislation undermines the existing right to hard-earned overtime pay, on which many working families rely to make ends meet, while misrepresenting itself as a workplace-flexibility measure that gives power to employees over their own schedules,” the White House said.
Opponents of the measure contend that employers will pressure workers to take time off, rather than pay overtime. They also claim the bill does not guarantee that workers will be able to use the time they have earned when they choose.
"What will happen is there won't be overtime anymore," House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said Tuesday. "It makes life less workable."
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