It sounds great: “Working Families Flexibility Act.”
But this legislation, being considered today by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is anything but a win for people struggling to manage the demands of job and family, and to make ends meet and plan for the future. Billed as a policy to give more flexibility to workers, in reality it is a smoke-and-mirrors proposal that trades guaranteed flexibility or time off for a pay cut. It is an empty GOP promise that does nothing to achieve fair work schedules for everyday Americans.
As the coalition letter makes clear, the GOP has proposed nothing more than a false choice between time and pay:
Supporters claim the bill would give hourly workers more flexibility and time with their loved ones by allowing them to choose paid time off, rather than time-and-a-half wages, as compensation for working more than 40 hours in one week (“comp time”). But people would only get more time with their families after spending extra hours away from them at work, and the bill does not guarantee that workers could use the time they earn when they need it. Moreover, the bill would do nothing to address the need all working people – not just those who work overtime – have for guaranteed access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave. Too few employers provide these protections now, especially to their hourly workers.
Congress should forgo this distraction and instead focus on proposals that meaningfully improve economic security, such as:
- The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1516/S. 636), which would make earned paid sick days available to millions of workers and build on the success of paid sick days laws that have been, or will soon be, implemented in seven states and 32 localities;
- The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 947/S. 337), which would create a national paid leave insurance program – modeled on successful state programs in California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and, soon, New York and the District of Columbia – that would allow workers to take paid time to care for a new child; care for a seriously ill family member; address their own serious health condition; or manage certain military caregiving responsibilities;
- The Schedules That Work Act, which would give workers more control over their schedules and incentivize predictability and stability in shifts and work hours; and
- An increase in the minimum wage, including the elimination of the sub-minimum “tipped” wage, which would lift millions of families out of poverty.
PFAW will continue to stand up for working families and against GOP priorities that are clearly out of step with the American people.