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Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Giving families flexibility

In today’s fast-paced society, it can be difficult for parents to balance the demands of the workplace with the desire to spend time with their family. As the father of four boys, I understand the struggles many parents face when they are forced to choose between work and their child’s tee-ball games, parent-teacher conferences and doctor’s appointments. With increasing demands and work-life stress, we are all searching for ways to gain greater flexibility and control of our time spent at and away from work. However, an outdated federal law is only making this more difficult for workers, businesses and families alike. Enacted 75 years ago, the Fair Labor Standards Act ignores today’s technologically evolving business world and denies workers the flexibility and options they need and desire. By only granting private-sector workers limited workplace flexibility options, it prevents most Americans from choosing paid time off as compensation for working overtime hours and restricts employers and employees’ ability to mutually agree on how a worker takes advantage of time spent on the job. Therefore, the U.S. House of Representatives is working to grant private-sector workers the same workplace flexibility privileges public-sector workers have long enjoyed. The Working Families Flexibility Act would allow employers to offer employees the choice of paid compensatory time off for hours worked in excess of 40 in a given workweek.
Under this legislation, which passed the House on Wednesday evening by a vote of 223-204, receiving paid comp time for overtime work would be a voluntary agreement between a worker and his or her employer. It would retain all existing enforcement remedies available to workers and would also add additional safeguards to ensure the voluntary choice and use of comp time. Furthermore, those workers who prefer to receive time-and-a-half cash payment for overtime work would continue to have the option to do so. A number of businesses in our community have reached out to me regarding the challenges they face in attracting and retaining qualified workers. For businesses where paid comp time would suit their current business model, the Working Families Flexibility Act would also provide another benefit with which to attract a quality workforce. We all have busy lives and must make daily decisions about whether work or family must come first. We shouldn’t be forced to live under a restrictive legal framework developed in a time when dual-income households and challenges, such as taking care of a young child or an aging parent, were not predominant concerns. Fixing a law that doesn’t work for today’s modern society is pro-family and pro-worker. By passing this legislation, we will address the real challenges families face and remove one more barrier lying between work and family life.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, represents the 12th Congressional District, which encompasses all of Pasco and parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

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