US House bill would modernize federal work mandates - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

US House bill would modernize federal work mandates

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A bill moving through Congress could help working families.

Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley, both R-W.Va., voted in favor of House Resolution 1406, which would allow private sector employees to choose between paid overtime and paid time off for additional hours worked. Capito said in a May 8 statement that the bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives 223-204, would give families more flexibility.

"For nearly 30 years, public sector workers have been able to receive ‘comp time' for working overtime hours," Capito said. "However, due to an outdated federal mandate, private sector employees have been prohibited from enjoying the same flexibility. As a working mom and someone who has balanced the struggles of work demands and the desire to be with my family, I strongly support the Working Families Flexibility Act."

According to Erin Magee, head of Jackson Kelly's labor and employment practice group, the legislation is fair across the board, and she doesn't see many problems with it.

"I think that one of the important things to keep in mind is this is still optional for the employee and employer," she said, noting a company's policy or employee manual must reflect the agreement. "Overall, I think it's a positive development because it gives flexibility to both employees and employers about how to use time off, how to generate time off and how to give employees an option in lieu of paying them over time."

Magee said such policies are important to younger generations of workers who value the work-life balance and look for those kinds of benefits in potential employers. And, it could save money.

"It certainly has the potential to (save money) because while an employee has to be paid out at a certain point in the calendar year, if he or she does not use the comp time her or she has banked  its only paid at the regular rate and not time an a half," Magee said. 

However, the legislation would mean more administrative work and another thing to keep track of, Magee said. But most companies could probably handle that.

If a company adopts the policy but finds out it doesn't work or the company is not well-suited to such a policy, the company can terminate the agreement with 30 days' notice.