For unionized employees who want to adjust their work schedules to accommodate family activities, leisure time, or a spouse's work schedule, Michigan laws governing the workplace aren't keeping pace.

Under existing law, hourly wage earners must be paid time-and-a-half or more for anything beyond the normal eight-hour day. But what about workers who would like to take an equivalent amount of time off rather than be paid for the extra hours?

"Comp-time"—the practice of trading overtime earnings for comparable time off is increasingly common in non-unionized workplaces. But union leaders fear that if they approve comp-time for unionized workers, employers will abuse the system to avoid paying overtime wages altogether.

They needn't worry. A comp-time program can be crafted that protects workers. First, the decision to choose comp-time in lieu of pay should be up to the employee alone. Choosing comp-time can never be a condition of employment. All comp-time agreements should be in writing. And employers should keep accurate records to verify each employee's accrued overtime.

A Michigan House committee is considering a law to allow for comp-time. Lawmakers should make every effort to grant Michigan's unionized workers greater flexibility in their work schedules.