By Juanita Phillips, North Alabama SHRM Chapter and Alabama SHRM State Council

Juanita Phillips will testify on behalf of SHRM at a Thursday, April 11, hearing about the Working Families Flexibility Act before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. In this post for the SHRM Blog, she shares with other SHRM members why she supports comp time for the private sector.  Watch the hearing live here.

Workplace flexibility practices should be … flexible. I think it’s a no-brainer.  Right? 

Flexibility in our workplaces is key these days in helping us get and keep great employees.  But those practices have to differ from company to company.   Different industries operate very differently, and what works well at one company may not work at all for another.  I have practiced HR in a publishing company, a manufacturing company, a blue collar government contractor, and an engineering services contractor, and sometimes practices that work well for one do not work at all for another.

A perfect example is that my company offers unlimited paid leave for the flu.  If an employee or anyone in their household has the flu, we do not want them to come to work, and will provide them with paid leave that does not count against their regular PTO balance.  We require no documentation.  Our employees do not abuse it, and it works great.  That would not be true of other places I’ve worked.

My thoughts on comp time are along these exact lines. There is no sensible logic to my having to explain to our nonexempt employees that they cannot have comp time like the government employees working beside them. Or my having to explain to our nonexempt employees that, although comp time is OK for government employees, it is illegal for them. Makes no sense to them, or to me.

On that premise alone, I wholeheartedly support legislation that makes available to the private sector what has been available to the public sector for years.

However, the legislation has to be written so it provides flexibility in when and how comp time is used.  In other words, it needs to work for both employers and employees.  That’s my two cents, at least.

Legislation sometimes ruins what are supposed to be flexible workplace practices by taking away the flexibility of how we can use them.

Juanita Phillips is the director of human resources at the Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation in Huntsville, Ala.

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