Overtime Reform: Widening the Lens
Perspectives on Work, LERA, Forthcoming
6 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2013
Date Written: Winter 2005
The standard to apply to any proposal to reform the FLSA overtime law is the extent to which it remains true to the original intent of the FLSA. That is, does it sufficiently: 1) deter employer demand for excessive work hours; 2) reward extended work effort; and 3) encourage the spreading of job opportunities? Recent US Congressional attempts, such as H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, to allow private sector employers to replace overtime pay with comp time in lieu for non-exempt (most hourly paid) workers, if the employee signs an agreement, is more likely to be harmful than helpful to worker well-being. The proposed bill does not preclude employer denial of use of comp-time credits when the worker prefers, nor prevent forced use of comp time credits by employers when the worker does not prefer to use them. The Comp-time proposal omits precisely those which surveys show would most value compensatory time -- white collar employees, such as quasi-professional and managerial jobs -- currently exempt from premium compensation altogether. Fresher ideas are needed in order to create a comprehensive reform of the FLSA that would deliver greater worker well-being in an era of stagnant wages. A broader, truly modernized, FLSA reform would aim to keep overtime work safe, legal and rare. Thus it would include accrued leave and sick time off, rights to request a shorter workweek or work-year and rights to refuse unwelcome overtime work.
Keywords: overtime, comp time, FLSA, hours of work
JEL Classification: J22, J32, J33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation