Will Working Families Flexibility Act hurt local employees?

May 9, 2013

(Eddie Lo/Flickr)

Alyssa Carabez has been working at restaurants to put herself through school. Her job regularly scheduled her to work when she was suppose to be in school, forcing her to make a difficult choice between missing class or getting fired.

The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 wich was passed in the U.S. House of Represenatives and is on it's way to the Senate, sounds like the sort of thing that would help her balance education and a job. The bill allows employers to give their workers comp time instead of overtime pay, as long as the worker agrees.

But many workers worry they’ll be pressured by employers to take the comp time and sacrifice overtime pay.

“I don’t know if other workers would feel comfortable given the intimidation behind it,” said Carabez.

Melissa Josephs is a policy director at Chicago’s Women Employed. She says since the employer must approve when the comp time is taken, the employees won’t necessarily be able to use it when they need it.

“[Workers] may wind up not only not getting the money they deserve, but they might not even get the comp time,” says Josephs.

Josephs also says the law would be difficult to enforce. Only about 6% of private sector employees are unionized and the Department of Labor is already strained to follow up on worker complaints.

Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her @shannon_h

 

Correction: This report previously reported that the legislation had passed the U.S. Congress; however, it has only passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Corrections have been made in the text.