Ed. Note: At second glance, it appears I’m mistaken, as the compensatory time this bill would create as an option for employees would actually be earned at a rate of 1.5 hours of compensatory time per hour of overtime, so the employee would not be losing money. Apologies for the oversight on my part.
I’d like to take a few moments to discuss 2013 Assembly Bill 611, a piece of legislation written by anti-worker Republicans like State Sen. Glenn Grothman and State Rep. Joel “donors write my bills” Kleefisch. On January 9, Assembly Bill 611 was referred to the State Assembly’s Committee on Labor, and as I write this it has not advanced any further.
The stated goal of Assembly Bill 611 is to permit “an employer other than the state or a local governmental unit (private employer) to provide compensatory time off in lieu of overtime compensation.” In other words, Assembly Bill 611 would allow private employers to provide paid time off instead of paying employees overtime for hours worked above and beyond the standard 40 hour workweek. At face value, that may seem fairly benign, but a deeper look at Assembly Bill 611 revealed this little nugget (emphasis added):
5. An employer shall pay any monetary compensation provided under subd. 1., 202., 3., or 4. at the regular rate of pay of the employee at the time the compensatory time was earned.
What that means (unless I’m totally reading it wrong) is that if employees are given compensatory time under this new legislation and they end up not using that compensatory time, they’d be able to get a payout at their regular rate of pay as opposed to getting a payout at the overtime rate of time and a half.
No doubt Republicans supporting Assembly Bill 611 will tout it as yet another example of how they’re giving employees more “freedom” and “flexibility,” but there’s a very real (and very negative) cost associated with Assembly Bill 611, which clearly benefits employers more than it benefits employees.
Given Rep. Kleefisch’s involvement in Assembly Bill 611, one can only wonder how much of the drafting of the legislation he outsourced to an interested third party – right-wing Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce comes to mind as one group that would be interested in changing Wisconsin’s overtime laws to benefit employers.