Bill would open up workers to paid time off instead of overtime

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A bill working its way through Congress gives workers the option of accruing comp time – paid time off – if they choose, instead of time-and-a-half if they work more than 40 hours a week.

The bill, proposed by Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, passed the House Tuesday night. All 191 Democrats voted against the bill, while six Republicans crossed party lines to also vote ‘no.’

Democrats argue the bill will undermine labor laws and will cheat workers out of money they’ve earned.

“Congress should strengthen protections for workers, not gut them,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Republicans in favor of the bill say the proposed law would give workers and employers more flexibility in controlling costs and having time off.

Rep. Roby insists that the choice is “completely voluntary” and leaves the decision of whether time off or cash payments are more valuable for overtime to the employee. Furthermore, the bill includes protections that would give room for the employee to change their mind and receive the cash at any time. This would force the employer to honor the request within 30 days.

Opponents say this will undermine workers and allow employers to give preferential treatment to employees who’d rather have the comp time over the extra pay.

A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate, but it remains in committee.