Legislative News

From the SHRM A-Team, April 27, 2017

We need your help! Please e-mail your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to VOTE YES on the comp time bill, H.R. 1180.

In February, Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.), introduced the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180) also known as the "comp time" billThe proposal will remove a federal restriction on the private-sector and help Americans better address family and work needs. H.R. 1180 would permit - but would NOT require -private-sector employers to offer employees the choice of taking overtime in cash payments as they do currently or in the form of paid time off - or comp time.

The House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a legislative hearing on H.R. 1180 on April 5th.  SHRM members Leslie Christ, Chief Resource Officer for WellStone Behavioral Health, and Crystal Frey, Vice President of Human Resources for Continental Realty Corporation, testified at the hearing in support of the bill. H.R. 1180 is expected to go before the full House of Representatives for a vote the week of May 1st.

SHRM supports H.R. 1180 and we need your help! Please e-mail your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to vote "YES" for H.R. 1180 when the proposal goes to the House floor. Read SHRM's position paper on the comp bill.

PLEASE TAKE THIS ACTION 
E-mail your Representative's Washington, DC office using SHRM's Policy Action Center by following these fast and easy steps:

  1. Visit SHRM's Policy Action Center
  2. Fill out your contact information (be sure to enter your home mailing address since the system will correctly match you to your federal congressional district).
  3. Personalize the template email language to include your message with your own story.
  4. Click "submit."

It is critical that Representatives hear from employers in their congressional districts over the next five days leading into the week of May 1st. That's why we are asking you - HR professionals, to e-mail your House members and express support for the comp time legislation.

BACKGROUND
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 requires that hours of work by non-exempt employees beyond 40 hours in a seven-day period must be compensated at a rate of 1 1/2 times the employee's regular rate of pay.  In 1978, Congress passed the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act, which changed the FLSA to allow compensatory time for federal employees.  In 1985, comp time was extended to include state and local agencies and their employees. H.R. 1180 would simply extend this important benefit to the private sector. 

The Working Families Flexibility Act would amend the FLSA to allow private-sector employers to provide compensatory time to employees. Employees would have the choice of taking overtime in cash payments, as they do today, or in the form of paid time off from work. Just as with overtime payments, paid time off would accrue at a rate of 1 1/2 hours for each hour of overtime worked.  Employees would be able to accrue up to 160 hours of comp time per year, although an employer could choose to "cash out" the comp time after 80 hours after providing the employee with 30 days of notice.  An employer would also be required to cash out any unused comp time at year's end at the regular time and a half rate.

For questions regarding compensatory time and Rep. Roby's comp time bill, contact Patrick Brady, SHRM's Senior Government Affairs Advisor, at[email protected] or 703-535-6246.

If you encounter any issues contacting your member of Congress, please contact Meredith Nethercutt, SHRM's Senior Associate, Member Advocacy and A-Team Program Director, at [email protected] or (703) 535-6417.

Don't Forget! 
Be sure to download and utilize the SHRM Advocacy App! The innovative advocacy tool (currently available in app stores under "SHRM Advocacy") will provide you with all the legislative and advocacy resources you need to take action today and throughout the year.

SHRM Eager for Lawmakers to Push Back on Overtime Changes before December 1

The clock is ticking—not only for when Congress adjourns for the campaign season but also for when the Department of Labor's (DOL's) changes to the overtime regulations go into effect on December 1. That's why a small but growing chorus of bipartisan lawmakers on Capitol Hill are coming together in support of a bill introduced in July by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) titled the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (H.R. 5813).

Increasing support for H.R. 5813 is an indication of the growing concern in Congress over the impending DOL changes to the overtime regulations and the rule's impact on organizations and their employees. Schrader's legislation would phase in the DOL's new salary threshold over three years, starting with a salary threshold increase to $35,984 on December 1, 2016. Additional increases would occur in December 2017, 2018 and 2019. Importantly, if enacted, the legislation would also prohibit the final rule's future automatic increases to the salary threshold.

To date, 12 bipartisan members of the House have come forward to co-sponsor H.R. 5813:

    • Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam)
    • Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)
    • Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
    • Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN)
    • Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
    • Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL)
    • Rep. David Jolly (R-FL)
    • Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)
    • Rep. Scott H. Peters (D-CA)
    • Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-MN)
    • Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI)
    • Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC 

SHRM supports this legislation and applauds House members for continuing to work toward a balanced solution to address the overtime rule in a way that would be beneficial to both employers and employees. 

But we need your help to push this legislation across the finish line before Congress adjourns! SHRM members are encouraged to write to their representatives in the Houseand ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 5813! 

On another front, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with 13 other national associations and several local chambers, are challenging the DOL's overtime rule in district court in Texas. A companion case has been filed in the same court by 21 states challenging the OT rule. Both cases seek to enjoin the rule before the December 1 effective date and assert that the DOL exceeded its constitutional authority in setting the new salary threshold so high that it impairs an employer's statutory right to continue to treat as exempt millions of currently exempt executive, administrative and professional employees, a change that departs from over 75 years of regulatory history. In addition, the lawsuits challenge the automatic escalator and the lack of notice and comment for future salary increases as exceeding statutory authority, as well. 

Looking ahead to 2017, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who is expected to assume the chairmanship of the House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee in the 115th Congress, recently remarked that if efforts to derail or revise the overtime regulations fail in 2016, she plans to continue the fight as chair of the House labor panel. In a recent interview with SHRM Online, Foxx indicated she's ready to tackle the DOL's new regulations on overtime early in 2017, if need be.

Chatrane Birbal, Sep 23, 2016