SHRM Members Serve as Key Catalysts in House Passage of Comp Time Bill
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead, American anthropologist (1901-1978).
On May 8, SHRM members experienced the power of advocacy when the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act, by a bipartisan vote of 223-204. SHRM was the principal employer association supporting the legislation, which would allow private-sector employers to give non-exempt employees the choice of receiving paid time off (compensatory time) instead of payments for any overtime hours worked. Comp time is an option that has been available to public-sector employees since 1985.
SHRM supports a balanced public policy in labor-management relations. For that reason, SHRM is pleased that H.R. 1406 includes numerous employee protections for workers who choose to participate in a comp time program. Employees who later reconsider and decide that they would prefer to receive their overtime compensation in cash can have their hours converted for cash wages after providing proper notice to their employer. Under the bill, any banked comp time hours not used at the end of the year are automatically paid out to the employee in cash.
Key provisions of the bill include that it:
- Allows employers the option to offer comp time in lieu of overtime payments
- Gives employees the choice to elect comp time in lieu of overtime payments if the employer offers such a program
- Allows employees to accrue 1 1/2 hours of paid time off for each hour of overtime worked
- Prohibits employers from intimidating or coercing employees into a comp time arrangement
- Allows employees to use the comp time at their discretion, unless the time off unduly disrupts the business operations of the employer
- Allows employees to opt out of the comp time arrangement at any time and receive cash payments for banked hours
- Requires employers to cash out any unused comp time at year’s end
The day before the House vote on H.R. 1406 last week, SHRM member Anika Harris (pictured at right with SHRM V.P. of Government Affairs Mike Aitken) hosted a press event in support of the proposal at her organization, THE CENTECH GROUP Inc., in Falls Church, Va. Click HERE to watch the press conference. SHRM Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Aitken participated in the event with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and other congressional leader (pictured above at the podium).
In advocating for passage of the legislation, SHRM and members of the Advocacy Team (A-Team) mobilized in support of H.R. 1406. Prior to the vote on the House floor, at least 358 members of the U.S. House of Representatives received 1,021 letters in support of the bill. During the April 15-19 congressional recess, SHRM members met with 24 House offices. Several members of the SHRM A-Team submitted blog posts on the issue of comp time. Most notably, one Pennsylvania A-Team member called an undecided House Representative on the morning of the vote, and, hours later, that member of Congress tweeted to his supporters that he would be voting for the bill!
In addition, a total of 73 SHRM State Councils/Chapters joined 19 national employer organizations on the employer coalition letter that SHRM spearheaded. In April, SHRM member and A-Team Captain Juanita Phillips testified in support of H.R. 1406 at a congressional hearing. Click HERE to read our coverage of the hearing in HR Issues Update.
H.R. 1406 now moves to the U.S. Senate. A SHRM member advocacy alert will be launched once more details are available to encourage HR professionals to contact their Senators to support H.R. 1406 when it comes before the chamber for consideration.
Be a catalyst of future HR public policies. To learn more and to register for SHRM’s Advocacy Team, click HERE. For questions regarding the A-Team, contact Chatrane Birbal, SHRM’s Senior Associate, Member Advocacy, at Chatrane.Birbal@shrm.org or (703) 535-6476. For questions regarding H.R. 1406, please contact Lisa Horn, SHRM’s Senior Government Affairs Advisor, at Lisa.Horn@shrm.org.