Washington D.C.-- U.S. Senator Mike Enzi has joined in the effort to pass legislation that could help the thousands of working mothers and fathers in Wyoming spend more time with their kids.
Enzi has signed on as an original co-sponsor of S.4, the Family Friendly Workplace Act.
"This legislation would provide compensatory time off that would allow employers to offer and employees to choose comp time off for school activities and a whole range of other personal reasons without getting the government involved in certifying and documenting these events," said Enzi. "At a time when our society clings to every fiber of family life, I can see no better way for Congress to express our support for the American family than by passing and then urging the President to sign into law, the 'Family Friendly Workplace Act.'"
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 employers must pay overtime to hourly wage earners who work more than 40 hours per week.
The new legislation co-sponsored by Senator Enzi would allow workers the flexibility to choose overtime pay or time off they can use to spend with their families. The Act includes bi-weekly scheduling that would provide employers and employees with the option of constructing a work schedule that provided for 80 hours "on the job" over two weeks. As a result, an employee might work 50 hours the first week and 30 hours the second week. For any additional time worked over the agreed upon hours, the employee would have the option of receiving comp time off or overtime cash wages. -more-
The worker also has the option of choosing to take time-and-a-half off instead of time-and-a-half pay for overtime hours. Up to 240 hours annually can be banked using this option and the worker may cash out comp-time hours for overtime pay later if desired.
"That's a lot of time to spend with our children, an investment in our future," Enzi said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 63 percent of mother and father households now see both parents working outside the home and 76 percent of mothers with school-age children now work.
"We must take action now to help employees balance the crushing demands of work and family lives. The Family Friendly Workplace Act would be an important first step in helping parents do that," said Enzi.
He stressed that this proposal is different than other "well intended" measures hailed as "pro-family." Enzi specifically mentioned the Family Medical Leave Act and President Clinton's promise to expand the Act.
"The federal government took a 13-page law and transformed it into 300 pages of regulations and an administrative nightmare," said Enzi. "The president decided to target businesses with mandated mounds of paperwork, complicating the lives of the employed and employer."
The Family Friendly Workplace Act is 100 percent voluntary and optional, nothing would change for workers who do not want flexibility.
Enzi said federal employees have enjoyed the benefits proposed under the plan for years.
"Federal employees have enjoyed flexible work schedules, chock full of choices and options since 1978," he said. "Legislation that amends the Fair labor Standards Act of 1938 is long overdue."
Pursuit of the Family Friendly Workplace Act is only one item that has occupied Senator Enzi's busy schedule this week.
Tuesday Enzi gave his first floor speech in support of the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment, a measure Enzi believes is the single most important piece of legislation facing Wyoming and the entire nation.
Wednesday he took part in the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs confirmation hearing of Andrew Cumo as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. -more-
He stressed the need to encourage ownership of homes, which promotes pride in the community and involvement, rather than just subsidizing rent.
"I look forward to working with the members of the banking committee and Mr. Cuomo on easing the transition for many Americans from the welfare rolls to working citizens. Adequate and affordable housing should be part of that transition," said Enzi.
He also conveyed his desire for the Housing and Urban Development department to work with the Department of Agriculture in providing housing opportunities for rural America.
The Alternative Minimum Tax bill is another high priority for Enzi. He spoke in favor of the measure Thursday. The legislation would protect farms and other businesses from a recent Internal Revenue Service decision that could hit them with huge, unexpected tax payments.