GOP Targets Women With Ads For Bill That Would Weaken Overtime Pay

In a bid for women’s support and votes, the GOP launched an aggressive ad campaign on “mommy blogs” on Tuesday. The ads will tout its deceptively titled Working Families Flexibility Act that would weaken overtime pay laws:

The banner ads will be featured on over 100 websites popular among women and geo-targeted to be viewed by residents in 20 Democratic-held congressional districts targeted by the GOP for 2014. […]

The $20,000 ad buy, running on sites including and through Friday, will call on Democrats to vote with House Republicans next week on a bill to give hourly private sector workers more flexibility to choose between compensatory time and cash payment for overtime work.

“Tell Rep. Kyrsten Sinema you shouldn’t have to choose between work and family,” reads one ad set to run in Sinema’s suburban Phoenix district. “Will Rep. Collin Peterson stand up for working moms?” reads another that’s slated to run in Peterson’s western Minnesota district. The banner ads link to a petition site calling on lawmakers to support “more freedom for working moms.”

There’s no doubt that many Americans are overworked and in need of policies that better allow them to balance their families and their jobs. But the GOP’s solution is not much of a solution at all. Rather than giving workers the ability to accrue paid leave through regular working hours, it would instead allow workers and employers to trade traditional time-and-a-half pay for overtime hours for compensatory time off.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) currently requires overtime for work over 40 hours, providing a disincentive to push employees to work long hours, which could diminish if they can offer comp time offered instead. The current law is also already difficult to enforce, as many workers claim they are denied time-and-a-half pay, and some employers may force their employees to use comp time instead. On top of all of this, employers may be able to deny requests to use comp time if they can claim it “unduly disrupts the operations of the employer” or that the request didn’t come in “within a reasonable period.”

There are other policies that Republicans could focus on if they are interested in promoting family friendly work solutions: They could support paid family and medical leave (currently only guaranteed as unpaid leave), paid sick days, and protections for workers who request flexible working conditions.