For many workers, a workweek of 40-plus hours provides enough money but too little time to enjoy the fruits of their labor or, for those with families, do what a parent or spouse wants to or must. It’s a conundrum that a plan pushed a decade ago and recently resurrected by Republicans would address. Unfortunately, it seems about as popular with labor unions (and Democrats) now as it was then.
The proposal would give private-sector workers the same option public-sector workers have — of choosing time-and-a-half overtime pay or compensatory time when they work more than 40 hours per week. Historically, private-sector workers didn’t have a choice; they had to take OT pay (at least by law).
But why not let them choose? Single parents, or even married ones where both work, often have kids who need their attention during the workday — whether they get sick and have to stay home from school, have an appointment, or a game or some other activity the parent wants to watch. An inflexible work schedule can create problems, which can be exacerbated if it requires the parent to work more than 40 hours per week.
The GOP plan runs into resistance with labor unions, who fear that employers who want to save money will force workers who want extra pay to instead take comp time — or try mightily to pressure them into doing so. It’s a legitimate enough fear but no reason not to at least give the plan a try. As with other workplace laws, employees whose rights are violated can file complaints, and the government can come down hard on violators.
It seems absurd not to approve what could be a valuable pro-family law simply on the suspicion that employers will violate it.