Republicans focus on workplace flexibility measure in weekly address
ATLANTA (CNN) —
A measure recently approved by the U.S. House altering federal overtime laws that was sharply opposed by Democrats, and isn't expected to pass the Democrat-led Senate, was the subject of Saturday's weekly Republican address.
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, who authored the Working Families Flexibility Act, said the measure "provides options for working moms and dads who need more time to take care of family responsibilities" and "demonstrates how applying conservative principles can help working Americans in their everyday lives."
The measure, which was approved 223-204 this week in the House, would extend certain rules dictating overtime pay for government workers to those working in the private sector.
The proposed law would allow workers to choose extra pay for time worked over 40 hours per week, or instead take "comp" time that could be used at a later date.
That benefit is currently enjoyed by Americans working in the public sector, and Roby said Saturday her bill would allow all workers to "have more freedom in the workplace."
Democrats, however, oppose the measure, saying it leaves an opening for employers to exploit their workers. They have cited concerns about employees not being able to utilize "comp" time earned from overtime work, and say the system is effective in the public sector since many of those employees are unionized.
"I understand it's comp time, but they won't get paid," House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said Wednesday. "Most workers at this level need the pay. They need to pay their mortgage, they need to pay their car payment, they need to send their kids to school."
Roby defended her bill on Saturday, saying it won't "change the 40-hour work week or how overtime pay is calculated."
"The same protections that have been a part of labor law for decades remain, and we've added additional protections against coercion or unfair treatment," she continued. "This bill also doesn't add government regulation to the workplace - we have enough red tape as is."