August 5, 2004 -- President Bush is urging Congress to move forward on legislation that would allow American workers the right to choose between being paid for overtime or the option to receive "comp time" instead.
The Family Time Flexibility Act, as it's called, is being led by House Republicans who hope to extend to private-sector employees a benefit that has been available in the public sector for fifteen years.
The bill has found backing from the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
"Our members are asking us to support this because their employees are asking for it," Patrick Lyden, an NFIB spokesman, said.
Supporters said the bill would give workers the ability to work for more time off at time-and-a-half increments.
Not everyone is behind the proposed amendment, however. Labor organizations have called the bill a one-sided benefit to corporations that allows them to reduce overhead.
Ross Eisenbrey, vice president and policy director at the Economic Policy Institute said, "All this measure does is give flexibility to employers on when and how they pay overtime benefits. The current law stipulates that employers must pay overtime benefits within the same pay cycle."
Advocates noted that the program would be voluntary.
"Labor organizations have wrongly demonized this measure," Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said. "The bill includes numerous protections ensuring it is a voluntary benefit that can't be used as leverage by employers."
The bill passed the Education and the Workforce Committee last year and has 110 bipartisan cosponsors.