May 3 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives passed a bill to allow private-sector employees the flexibility to offer compensatory time off to employees instead of overtime pay.
The bill passed Tuesday, largely along party lines, 227-197, and will proceed to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not indicated whether he will take up the measure.
The concept of payment of time-and-one-half for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a week, dates to the New Deal. The alternative, to offer future time off instead of overtime payment, is a product of the Newt Gingrich-era Republicans in Congress; similar bills passed the House in 1996, 1997 and 2013, but stalled in the Senate. With current GOP control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the bill has its greatest chance of becoming law, although it will require the support of at least eight Senate Democrats to avoid a filibuster.
The House bill says that, instead of immediate payment for overtime work, employees would instead accrue an hour and a half in a comp time bank, useable later on as paid time off. Republicans in the House note it includes numerous worker protections, including a ban on coercion to choose comp time, and guarantees to have comp time available to workers "within a reasonable period."
Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., said the bill offers a balance between work life and home life for employees.
Ross Eisenberry of the Economic Policy Institute called it "a complete and total fraud."
"It forces the employee to give the employer a loan -- unsecured, interest-free -- of the overtime pay, in order to have the hope -- not a guarantee, but the hope -- of having some time off later on," Bloomberg News quoted him as saying.