Paid Leave? Leave in Lieu of Overtime Pay? Changes May Be Coming.


By Kathleen Jennings (

Is a federal law requiring employee paid leave in the works? It appears that House Republicans are expected to introduce a bill shielding employers from state and local paid leave requirements if they offer workers a certain amount of paid time off for family and medical reasons. The amount of leave that a business would have to offer to be eligible for the safe harbor would vary based on number of employees. Business groups have been advocating for federal legislation addressing paid leave as an alternative to the various state and local leave laws that are being passed. Basically, for covered employers, the federal law would preempt state and local laws, giving those eligible employers and their HR personnel one federal law to comply with. Some states, including New York and Washington, are already working on passing their own paid leave laws. The Society for Human Resource Management is one of the organizations that has been lobbying in support of a federal law. It is too to tell whether this legislation, and if so, in what form. We will provide updates as necessary.

Another Republican Wage-Hour initiative is a bill that was introduced earlier this year by House Republicans to allow companies to offer employees compensatory time (time off) rather than time-and-a-half pay. The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017, if passed, would allow nonexempt workers to earn compensatory time off at a rate of no less than 1.5 times every hour for which they would have otherwise earned overtime pay. The bill also would

  • cap the amount of comp time employees could accrue at 160 hours,
  • require employers to pay out annually any unused comp time,
  • give employers 30 days to pay out any unused comp time beyond 80 hours, and
  • require employers to pay out any unused comp time accrued upon termination for any reason.

The House Bill (H.R. 1180) passed on May 2 without any Democratic support. The bill is now in the Senate (S. 801), where it will need some Democratic support in order to pass. There is significant opposition to this bill, so it is by no means a done deal. We will also monitor this legislation and provide updates as necessary.

Kathleen Jennings, Principal is a principal in the Atlanta office of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider, & Stine, P.C. She defends employers in sexual harassment and other employment litigation and provides training and counseling to employers in employment matters. She can be contacted at

©2017 Wimberly Lawson

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