Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ohio House considering comp time bill (HB 61)

One of the biggest wage and hour mistakes a company can make is assuming that it is legal to pay comp time in lieu of overtime for any hours employees work in excess of 40 in a work week. Make no mistake, with the exception of state and local governments, it is illegal to pay comp time as a replacement for overtime wages.

Ohio House Bill 61, currently under consideration, is trying to change this rule for Ohio’s small businesses. HB 61 would allow workers to bank up to 240 hours of comp time per year. At the end of a year, employers would have to pay out overtime wages for any unused comp time. Covered workers would have the right to chose between comp time and overtime pay. Employers would be prohibited from requiring workers to elect comp time, in addition to threatening, intimidating, or firing workers who choose overtime wages.

Here’s the catch: this bill only applies to those small businesses covered by Ohio’s Fair Wage Standards Act but not covered by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act—those that have gross annual gross sales between $150,000 and $499,999.99. Nevertheless, according to PolitiFact Ohio, this bill has the potential to reach at least 10,000 Ohio small businesses.

HB 61 is a significant move in the right direction to making Ohio a more business-friendly environment. By allowing small businesses the ability to offer comp time to employees, Ohio’s small businesses will be able to provide workplace flexibility that currently does not exist and that employees covet. This benefit will help Ohio attract and maintain the small businesses we need as the backbone of our economic recovery.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.