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New bill makes critics fear wage theft

Employees across Missouri and the country could have changes coming to overtime policies. According to, a bill passed by the U.S. House called the Working Families Flexibility Act would change overtime rules to allow a private sector employee to choose between a time-and-a-half overtime wage or time off. Rather than earning extra money, employees could earn extra compensatory time off--1.5 hours of time off for every hour of overtime worked. Employees would also be given the option to change their minds later and be paid out the regular 1.5 times of their hourly rate. This would apply only to overtime hours, or those that are more than 40 hours in one workweek. 

Supporters of the bill believe it could provide greater flexibility for employees, who may want to store up time off to use at a later date. The bill allows for up to 160 hours of time to be stored up by an employee. Many employers are in favor of the bill. Critics of the bill fear employees will feel pressured by their managers to choose comp time, especially in jobs with shifting hours. They fear employers could use the threat of fewer scheduled hours to pressure an employee into taking comp time. Others worry that employees will not be able to use the time when they need it while holding onto overtime pay, essentially committing wage theft.

As The American Prospect reports, that employers withholding tips or overtime pay, failing to pay workers the minimum wage, off-the-clock work and other forms of wage theft cost U.S. workers $15 billion a year.


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