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May 3, 2017

A bill allowing employers to pay workers in comp time rather than cash for overtime hours was passed by the House today.

On a largely partisan lines, the House voted 229-197 to approve the Working Families Flexibility Act. Six Republicans joined all 191 Democrats in opposing the bill.

Advocates said updating the Depression era Fair Labor Standards Act recognizes that for today’s hourly workers, time off can be more valuable than time-and-a-half pay.

“If you asked any working parent, they’d tell you how valuable their time is,” said the bill’s sponsor, Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala). “Congress, of course, cannot legislate another hour in the day. But we can give men and women more choice and flexibility in how they choose to use their time.”

Opponents argued that workers subject to the FLSA rules on overtime include all minimum wage workers for whom earning OT has an outsized impact on the family budget. Even though the bill has protections against employers coercing workers to take comp time, opponents say it will happen anyway or companies will give overtime only to those who choose time off.

The House has passed similar bills three times in the past, but all stalled in the Senate. The current version faces an uncertain future there.