Friday, September 08, 2017
Billy Long: Why I support the Working Families Flexibility Act
I'm hard pressed to think of any of our neighborhood kids who had parents that both worked outside the home when I was 12 years old. The workforce has changed greatly in the last 50 years. It has become much more common for both parents to work outside the home today, either by choice or for financial reasons. I believe it's high time our laws reflect those changes. The inflexibility of most office environments makes being a parent all the more difficult today. The fact is that today 85 percent of Americans say workplace flexibility is a major factor when considering a job.
Earlier this year I voted in favor of the Working Families Flexibility Act, which passed the House of Representatives. This bill allows private-sector employers to offer paid time off instead of cash wages for working overtime. If an employee decides that they would rather have cash wages than paid time off, they can continue to do so. Currently the federal government does not allow private-sector employers to offer this as an option.
This bill doesn’t change existing protections guaranteed to workers, like the 40-hour workweek or how overtime compensation is accumulated. It is pro-family and pro-worker legislation that allows private-sector employees the same privilege public-sector employees have enjoyed for almost 30 years.
The Working Families Flexibility Act would help the thousands of hardworking families who desperately need workplace flexibility. In my district alone there are many children living in single-parent households. The three counties with the highest percentages are Jasper, Stone and Taney County. 37 percent of the households in these counties are headed by single-parents. This means that if a child is ill or something goes wrong, these parents are left with little to no choices at all. This bill could change that and allow these parents, if they work in the private-sector, to receive paid time off.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor released data that showed the lack of access to paid time off for high-wage earners and low-wage earners. For high-wage earners, 23 percent of employees had access to paid time off. For low-wage workers that number was only 4 percent. No matter how much someone makes, that individual deserves the choice to have paid time off.
It’s time we give workers the flexibility they want and deserve. These hardworking individuals deserve the option between paid time off or cash wages for working overtime. I look forward to the Senate passing this bill and president Trump signing it into law.