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U.S. House votes to change overtime law

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would change the country's longstanding overtime pay regulations. As it currently stands, hourly workers in Florida who put in more than 40 hours in one week must be paid time-and-one-half their regular rate of pay for any additional hours; under the recently passed bill, workers could decide whether they want to receive overtime pay or would prefer to earn paid time off instead.

The passing of this bill into law would result in a change to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which currently requires employers to pay overtime rates to non-exempt workers. Supporters of the bill say that it is family-friendly, as it would allow workers to earn as many as 160 hours of paid time off.

Public sector employees do already have the option of selecting overtime pay or the accrual of paid time off for their overtime hours.

Workers advocacy groups have voiced opposition to this bill, saying that it would allow employers to pressure workers to opt out of overtime pay. Employers might also become encouraged to offer overtime hours only to those workers who want to be paid with time off instead of wages, the bill's opponents say. They have also complained that the bill contains no guarantees allowing workers to be able to take the time off when they would like to.

It will be interesting to see whether this bill will pass into law. Currently, it remains quite controversial with one side arguing that it enhances workers' rights, and the other saying it helps employers and hurts employees.

Under the current standing law, workers in Florida must be paid time-and-a-half if they put in more than 40 hours in a week. Some employers do use a number of tricks to get out of paying workers the wages that they are entitled to under the law. When this happens, workers may wish to talk to an employment law attorney about their options.

Source: Miami Herald, "House approves bill to change overtime pay law," May 8, 2013

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