An Interesting Debate Happening In Washington: Should Private Sector Employees Be Allowed To Elect Paid Comp Time of Overtime Pay?

by Adair Melinsky Buckner on May. 31, 2013

Employment Employment  Employee Rights Employment  Labor Law 

Summary: Employees working more than 40 hours a week to bank up to 160 hours of earned time off for future use, for any reason.

overtime results in pay and time offOn Wednesday, May 22, 2013, the House approved a measure that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act by giving private sector workers the option of trading overtime pay for extra time off weeks or months later.  Under current law, private sector workers can only take compensatory time off for overtime pay within the single one-week pay period.  

The bill would allow employees working more than 40 hours a week to bank up to 160 hours of earned time off for future use, for any reason.  This bill also would forbid employers from pressuring workers to take comp time instead of cash. 

So what are the pro’s and con’s of such legislation? Will the bill be enacted as law?

Republicans say they want to give working parents in private businesses the same flexibility that public sector workers have in taking time off to spend with their children or care for aging parents. (This sounds more like the usual Democratic platform.)  On the flip side, Democrats and worker advocacy groups are saying it does not offer adequate protection to prevent employers from coercing workers not to take overtime pay. They also claim there is no guarantee in the bill that workers would be able to take the extra time off when they want, and there might be adverse action taken by employers against workers who elect to take the comp time. 

The bill has been given little chance of success in the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama has threatened a veto. 

These issues make for any interesting debate and bear keeping a close eye on as the bill moves through the Senate.

Adair Buckner is an Amarillo attorney with Buckner & Cross, L.L.P.  She is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Her other areas of practice include business law, business disputes, commercial litigation, estate planning, and probate. You can reach Adair at (806)-322-7777 or This material is not intended to be legal advice. The contents are intended for general information purposes only.

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