Given the current status of the bipartisan talks on raising the debt ceiling, I’m not sure how willing to flex and bend congressional leaders are at the moment. Still, I give members of the Society for Human Resource Management credit for trying to stretch lawmakers’ thinking on modernizing the 73-year-old Fair Labor Standards Act to allow employers and employees greater flexibility.

Speaking on Thursday to the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, FLSA “reflects the realities of the industrial workplace of the1930s and not the workplace of the 21st century,” said Nobumichi Hara, an HR executive and SHRM member. “Minimum-wage policies and overtime exemption requirements, which may have been appropriate in the 1930s, are out of step with the current knowledge- and technology-based economy, creating unnecessary regulatory burdens for employers and restricting employers’ ability to be flexible and address contemporary employee needs.” 

Hara told members of the subcommittee that the FLSA does not permit employers to provide the workplace flexibility benefits — flextime, telecommuting and compressed workweeks, for example — that millions of nonexempt employees want. Using his own 2,000-employee workplace as an example of an organization hamstrung by the FLSA, Hara explained that a request for bi-weekly compressed workweeks by a group of Goodwill employees was complicated because of burdens imposed by the law.

The full testimony is here.

What do you think? Is FLSA in need of a facelift? How can/should the law be altered to fit the needs of modern workers and their families? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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