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Bend the Rules

Are overtime laws too rigid? congress is looking at ways to increase their flexibility.

By Stephen Barlas • May 5, 2006 Originally published Feb 2, 2002

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's high time for overtime reform-or at least that'sthe view of many small-business groups that are optimistic thatthis new Congress, with its Republican-controlled Senate, will passchanges to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). At the top of thelist is modernizing the overtime provision of the 1938 law, whichdictates that hourly workers be paid time-and-a-half beyond a40-hour week.

Groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce want to give businessesand workers more flexibility by allowing employees to take time offin lieu of overtime pay. The logic is that, for example, parentsmight prefer extra time off to spend with children, eitherparticipating at school or staying home during a sickness, ratherthan extra pay. However, opponents of comp time, led by laborunions, argue employers would use comp time flexibility to forceemployees to take extra time off as a means of achieving payrollsavings.

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