Yet too many private-sector employees don’t have as much of that precious resource as their public-sector counterparts.
That’s because the Fair Labor Standards Act, a decades-old law designed to protect American workers, prevents private employers from giving their employees the choice between taking comp time and earning time-and-a-half for working overtime. That needs to change, which is why I have cosponsored legislation the House of Representatives just passed to unshackle American workers from this law’s inflexibility.
This legislation, the Working Families Flexibility Act, will give private-sector employees the same choices that federal, state and local government employees have had for years. This bill lets private-sector employees take paid time off instead of cash wages for overtime hours worked, a benefit public-sector employees have enjoyed since 1985. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the bill does not force any employee to take compensatory time instead of overtime pay. It simply provides American workers with the ability to choose which they value more.
It’s a choice I wish my mom had when I was younger. She raised me and my brother on her own while working at Delta Faucet in Greensburg. She worked hard. She worked long hours. Sometimes, she worked weekends. Often, she came home tired.
My mom made the best decisions she could with the opportunities that she had. She always put her boys first, and most of her free time was spent going to ball games and teacher’s conferences. But, I can say now — more than 30 years later — there were times that I would have sacrificed a new pair of cleats for a little more time with her. I bet she’d say the same.
The Working Families Flexibility Act is about giving moms and dads that time with their sons and daughters. Some workers will opt to earn a few extra dollars, perhaps to make much-needed car repairs or put a little extra away for their child’s education. Others will choose the time off so they can go to that parent-teacher conference or help their child memorize lines for the school play.
Federal worker protection laws shouldn’t benefit some workers at the expense of others. This legislation remedies that inequity by giving private-sector employees the same opportunities their public-sector counterparts have enjoyed for years.
The Working Families Flexibility Act will give hard-working American families the freedom to choose how to spend their most precious resource: their time. That’s a long-overdue gift American families deserve.
Luke Messer is the representative for Indiana’s 6th Congressional District and serves on the U.S. House Budget Committee.