Working Families Need Flexibility, Not False Choices

We at 1,000 Days are very concerned about the Working Families Flexibility Act which is currently moving through Congress. This piece of legislation would have a significant impact on hourly workers – who are overwhelmingly low-income women, including millions of mothers with young children. While the bill sounds great in name, it misses the mark entirely in substance.

Instead of providing workers with the flexibility to spend time with their families – such as for the birth of a child – this bill would force people to choose between time-and-a-half overtime pay and paid time off – or “comp time” – when they work more than 40 hours in a week. This doesn’t give families the flexibility they need. Rather, it presents America’s hard-working families with a false choice between time and pay, when what they really need is both.

There are several problems with this proposal:

    1. Workers only earn comp time to spend with their families after spending more time away from them by working overtime.
    2. The bill does not guarantee that workers could use the time they earned (and banked) when they need it, such as for the birth of a child or a medical emergency. Employers would have the right to deny employees’ requests to use their comp time.
    3. The bill does nothing to address the need for all working Americans – not just hourly workers – to have guaranteed access to paid family and medical leave.

Working families do need flexibility, but this is not it. America’s workers should be paid for the time that they work – including overtime – AND have access to paid time off for personal and family needs. People should not have to work more than 40 hours in a week and forgo pay to earn the time they need to care for themselves and their loved ones.

Rather than putting forth piecemeal approaches that do more harm than good, Congress should focus on policies that improve the health and economic security of our nation’s families.

That’s why 1,000 Days is calling for a comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy – like the FAMILY Act – that helps ALL working parents in the U.S. give their children the strongest start to life.