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Working overtime: No cash but time off in return
HRK News Bureau | New Delhi | Friday, 05 May 2017

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With the new bill, backed solely by the Republicans, workers will have to forego the extra bucks they could have earned working overtime

The hourly-wage employees working overtime in the US will now get paid in time off instead of cash rewards, as was the practice earlier. The House of Representatives just passed a bill that will let employers give workers paid time off instead of time-and-a-half pay, whenever they put in extra hours.

The bill will tweak the Fair Labour Standards Act, which mandates that employers who require hourly-paid employees to work more than 40 hours a week will have to pay time-and-a-half, or 1.5 times their usual hourly rate. The bill also prohibited employers from coercing or intimidating employees into choosing  time off instead of overtime pay.

Now, with the new bill, backed solely by the Republicans, workers will have to forego the extra bucks they could have earned working overtime. Interestingly, the bill was not favoured by a single Democrat with six of the Republicans also voting against it.

The Trump administration, on the other hand, supports the bill as The White House mentioned in a news release that the president's advisers recommend that Trump sign the bill into law if it is presented to him in its current form.

The Democrats, on the other hand, strongly oppose the bill as they feel concerned about the fact that now employers have the final say on when comp time can be used. This means, bosses can defer compensating employees for overtime work.

At the same time, Liz Ryan, a veteran HR leader also feels that the bill is not a fair decision. She expresses her views in a blog, where she says, “If extra time off is just as good and valuable as overtime pay, then the right thing to do is to pay employees for their overtime hours and set up a programme to sell them extra time off if they want to buy it.”

“If this bill becomes law, then employees will work overtime without knowing when or how they will be paid for those hours,” she adds.

While the Democrats believe that the bill hasn’t been planned keeping in mind the workers’ plight, it is clear that the Republicans are pro corporates and it could be a possibility that the bill has been proposed with the businesses’ larger benefit in mind.

A rewards head from a large multinational firm tells us that the move could be one that controls unnecessary overtime amongst workers who would do so just to make more money. He explains that in developed economies, where there is a larger focus on well-being and healthcare, rather than earning, owing to the fact that social security is much higher, money may not be that big an issue, unlike in developing or underdeveloped countries. Hence, a law such as this may be a step towards ensuring better work–life balance, and overall wellbeing of people who would normally overstretch. It could be a positive move encouraging people to take more breaks – paid ones.

However, at the same time, “From an employer’s perspective it is one that may help them control costs. From another standpoint, it could also be a case of the corporates lobbying with the government in an attempt to get things under their control” he says.

With so many mixed reactions and different people sharing varied views with regard to the new bill, it is yet to be seen how it will actually impact workers and employers, once it becomes a law.

© 2016 HR Katha

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