WASHINGTON, D.C. — Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180).

H.R. 1180 was introduced to reform outdated federal labor rules and extend workplace flexibility to more Americans. Introduced by Rep. Martha Roby (R-Alabama), the legislation would allow private-sector employers to offer employees who are eligible for overtime pay a choice between paid time off on cash wages. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the Senate version of the bill (S. 233). The bill includes strong protections to ensure that the decision to choose comp time is voluntary.

The bill passed by a vote of 229 to 197.

“This bill is about freedom, flexibility and fairness for America’s workers," said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. "Government employees have long been able to choose what’s best for themselves and their families. There’s no reason outdated federal rules should deny private-sector workers the same freedom and flexibility. I want to thank Rep. Martha Roby for leading the effort to eliminate this unfair double standard. The Working Families Flexibility Act will provide strong protections for workers and empower more Americans to better balance work, life and family.”

This pro-family, pro-worker proposal includes reforms to:

Allow employers to offer employees a choice between cash wages or accruing comp time for overtime hours worked. No employee can be forced to take comp time;

Protect employees by requiring the employer and the employee to complete a written agreement to use comp time, entered into knowingly and voluntarily by the employee;

Retain all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40-hour workweek and how overtime compensation is accrued;

Allow employees to accrue up to 160 hours of comp time each year. An employer would be required to pay cash wages for any unused time at the end of the year. Workers are free to ‘cash out’ their accrued comp time whenever they choose to do so;

Prohibit employers from intimidating, coercing or forcing employees to accept comp time instead of cash wages. Those in violation of the law would be liable to the employee for double damages; and

Require the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to report to Congress on the extent private-sector employers and employees are using comp time, as well as the number of complaints filed with and enforcement actions taken by the U.S. Department of Labor.

HARDI members support giving employers the ability to provide overtime and comp-time flexibility. The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 allows just that, by removing federal regulations that restrict private-sector employees from being enabled to better balance work and family obligations.

“Many HARDI member companies are multigenerational family businesses, and they understand the importance of a healthy work-life balance when it comes to raising a family,” said HARDI Vice President of Government & External Affairs Jon Melchi. “Our members see the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 as an opportunity to strengthen their relationships with employees by offering more flexibility and time off.”

For more information, please contact Anthony Lagunzad at alagunzad@hardinet.org.