Plastics company executives are watching a bill that would allow more workers to qualify for compensatory time instead of overtime.
The Family Time Flexibility Act is scheduled for a vote in June in the U.S. House of Representatives after having failed its previous pass through Congress during the mid-1990s. The bill would allow 72 million additional workers to qualify for compensatory time. Previously, comp time had been available only for federal workers and other exempt employees, including salaried workers.
Christopher Marinello, group manager of U.S. operations for Ikka Technology Inc., the U.S. branch of Tokyo-based Daiichi Kasei Co. Ltd., thinks the latest legislation is going to ``die on the vine.''
``I don't necessarily like comp time,'' he said. ``If a person is working toward vacation time, that is part of their benefit: to get paid for that time. By legislating something that's been standard industry practice for over 100 years, it'll throw the industry into disarray.''
Sponsored by Rep. Judy Biggert, R.-Ill., H.R. 1119 would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to allow private-sector workers and their employers the option, if they wanted it, of accruing up to 160 hours of comp time per year.
``Workers today, more than ever, face a difficult dilemma: how to balance the demands of a job while having adequate time for family, friends and outside commitments,'' Biggert said on the House floor March 6 when she introduced the legislation.
Peter Connors, president of rotational and structural foam injection molder Remcon Plastics Inc., said comp time is given to the exempt workers at its two plants in Reading, Pa. He said the hourly employees at Remcon, which employs a total of 120, probably would want to have the comp-time option.
``If you can become more flexible and make your employees happy,'' he said, ``it'll probably mean they'll stay longer.''
Deron Zeppelin, director of governmental affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va., said one of the positives of the bill is that the hours carry over from month to month.
``Flexibility is greatly in demand and needed for American workers, so why should the American government be opposed to [providing] the flexibility the work force wants?'' he asked. ``No one is forced to do it. It's just another tool in the toolbox. Companies are screaming, `Oh, this is horrible and bad!' If you don't want it, you don't have to offer it.''
Under the guidelines of the act, a company would be allowed to provide monetary reimbursement for unused comp time in excess of 80 hours, if given 30 days' notice. An employee also can ask for reimbursement of at least the regular pay rate or the final rate received by an employee, whichever is higher.
A&A Global Industries Inc. employs 30 and runs 24 hours a day, said William Belke, division manager-plastics. He said the injection molder needs to ensure enough employees are on each shift to keep its 18 presses with clamping forces of 75-500 tons working at its plant in Timonium, Md.
``It would be difficult from a planning standpoint not knowing who would be here,'' he said. ``We'd have to adjust for that.''
Marinello said company officials should have more pressing issues on their minds.
``Management gets stirred up about proposed legislation when management should be trying to get as lean as they can so work doesn't go offshore,'' he said.