Issue in Focus
Jan 23 2015
Finding an acceptable and sustainable work-life balance is a constant challenge for many working families today. Parents need to juggle the responsibilities and opportunities that come with pursuing a career, maintaining a home, raising kids, and engaging in the community. For working parents, time is often their most precious commodity. But our current federal labor laws unfairly restrict the way moms and dads and everyone else can use their time.
Because of these laws, an hourly employee who works overtime is not allowed to take comp-time or flex time. Even if she prefers it, her boss can’t even offer it. For instance, if a working mom or dad stays late at the office on Monday and Tuesday, and wants to get compensated for that overtime work by leaving early on Friday to spend the afternoon with the kids, instead of receiving extra pay, that could be a violation of federal law. That sounds unfair, especially to parents, but how do we know for sure? Because Congress gave a special exemption from that law for government employees. This is unacceptable. The same work-life options available to government bureaucrats should be available to the citizens they serve.
For his part, the President recently unveiled a new proposal that would impose additional mandates on businesses that require paid leave for employees. But the president fails to recognize that these one-size-fits-all mandates translate into new costs on businesses that have very real consequences for workers – the very people he’s trying to help. Working moms and dads may appreciate having paid time off when they need it, but if it comes at the expense of getting a raise or causes benefits to be cut in other areas, they may prefer some other arrangement.
There is a better way to help America's working moms and dads find that elusive work-life balance, while protecting their bargaining power while on the job. The “Working Families Flexibility Act” offers an employee the option to work out a deal with their employer that works best for them. The worker can choose to earn comp-time or more money – whichever is the most useful at that time - all without foisting new, costly mandates on employers.
This is a solution that ends the unfair, government-driven discrimination against private-sector employees, enables parents to better balance work and family commitments, empowers all workers to choose whether time or money is the more important resource at a given time, and reduces the burden of unnecessary federal regulation.