Yesterday the Working Families Flexibility Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 223 to 204. The bill allows employers to offer compensatory time off (comp time) to employees who work overtime, instead of paying time-and-a-half when a worker's weekly hours exceed forty.
Representative Martha Roby (R-AL), who introduced the bill, suggests the legislation would relieve work-family pressures parents--especially moms--feel, by letting them potentially take more time off in lieu of overtime pay they would otherwise collect. Stating that the comp time off could be used "to spend more time with their children, attend parent-teacher conferences, or care for an aging relative," the bill sounds like a step toward a family-friendly America, especially at a time when the U.S. ranks only a poor 30th on the just-released "Best Place to be a Mother" list. Yet opponents say it's the wrong approach. Low wage workers, in particular, need schedule predictability and consistency, to plan their household budgets and child care. They need the overtime dollars, not a promise of time off later--time that may not coincide anyway with their family's routine or emergency needs.
Both sides say the bill holds little promise of passing in the Democrat-controlled Senate since, in the past, Democrats twice rejected similar legislation. If it does pass, however, the President stands ready to veto it. Thus doomed from the start, the Working Families Flexibility Act seems destined only to voice concern for working mothers squeezed by the dual demands of work and family, rather than offer tangible solutions to ease the burden everyday.