Proposed Bill Would End 40-Hour Work Week

House Republicans have introduced a bill that would end the 40-hour work week, dismantling an important component of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 and hurting middle-class families across the country.

Sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby (AL), the dubiously-titled “Working Families Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1406) would remove the requirement that employers pay a cash premium for overtime work and instead allow them to offer employees compensatory time off. The effect would be an FLSA that is undermined of its only incentive against excessive hours and a cheaper way for employers to demand mandatory overtime.

Eileen Appelbaum, a senior economist with the Center for Economic Policy and Research, says the bill’s major effect would be to hurt workers, “likely increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do.”

IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger wrote a letter to Congress encouraging them to vote against the bill.

“Employers can already work within the existing laws to allow workers adjusting work schedules around family needs without changing the 40-hour workweek,” Buffenbarger wrote. “‘Comp time’ proposals let the employer decide whether workers can use any accrued compensatory time. Additionally, nothing would prevent the employer from forcing workers to take time off individually or limiting whether workers can use the compensatory time at all if it is too burdensome to the work-load.”

The bill was referred to committee and could come to a vote in the House as early as next week.

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