Families across South Dakota, including mine, spend evenings planning out who’s doing what chores, who’s taking who to school, to practice, or to church youth group the following day. There’s a lot of coordination that goes into organizing and managing a family schedule and this only increases when parents have to juggle work commitments on top of family responsibilities. I believe working families should have additional flexibility in order to spend quality time with their children, spouses, or elderly parents.

This is why I am a proud cosponsor of the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, which will allow private-sector workers to either continue to receive overtime pay or receive paid time off, or “comp time,” for overtime hours worked. Government employees are already able to use this flexibility, and I believe this option should also be available to private sector employees.

Washington policies have a reputation of getting in the way of empowering families, businesses and individuals. I believe we can, and we should, do better. In 1975, only 37 percent of American families had both parents working. By 2011, the number of households with two working parents had risen to 59 percent, while over 8.5 million workers manage finances and juggle schedules as single parents. In fact, from 2000 to 2011, South Dakota ranked first in the nation for the percentage of working moms. It’s time for labor laws to change to meet the needs of families.

One of the most important parts of this legislation is that it is completely voluntary. Any employees who want to receive cash wages for overtime hours would continue to do so. In fact, workers could change their mind and cash out any accrued comp time whenever they choose.

We know this works for public-sector employees, so why not give hardworking families the opportunity to decide for themselves what is best for their family? Perhaps you’ve been in a situation when you desired an extra afternoon off to clean out the garage, take a child to a doctor’s appointment, or to even spend time visiting your aging parents. Sometimes time is more valuable than money, and this bill gives working moms and dads an opportunity to have more time to take care of the kids and manage hectic family schedules.

I know first-hand how difficult it is to not be there for a concert, basketball game or to patch up a scraped knee. As I’ve met with South Dakotans throughout my time in office, many working moms and dads have expressed to me they wish life were just a little bit easier. That’s the goal of this legislation – to make life a little bit easier by allowing non-salaried employees some additional flexibility to spend time at home.

If you or someone you know would appreciate the option to decide between cash wages or paid time off, I hope you’ll reach out to my office to share your story. To contact my office and share how this flexibility would benefit you, I encourage you to call any one of my state offices or my office in Washington, D.C. 

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