PRESIDENT OBAMA and his U.S. Labor Department have proposed a major expansion of overtime eligibility for middle-level salaried workers, and now the public has the opportunity to tell the government what it thinks about it.
In a move to boost middle-class incomes without congressional action, the president said in late June that the Labor Department would propose to extend overtime protections to salaried supervisors and managers making up to $50,400 per year (or $970 weekly). The current eligibility threshold for overtime (time-and-a-half) pay for salaried employees is $23,660 per year ($455 weekly).
In the simplest of terms, the proposal — if it becomes a federal rule with the weight of law — means this: Salaried employees making up to $50,400 a year would be eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. Currently, for salaried workers making more than $23,660 annually, that’s not the case. In addition, the proposal includes a provision that the overtime salary threshold be indexed to wages and inflation, allowing for automatic adjustments based on future economic conditions.
Labor advocates and many people in Democratic circles are calling the overtime proposal a long-overdue reform and a quick way to help up to five million financially struggling U.S. households. Major business trade groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, and others generally aligned with Republican policies, are criticizing the proposal. They say employers can’t afford it and that the economy will suffer. They add that workers actually could lose pay and benefits, including the benefits of flexible scheduling, as business owners seek ways to compensate for the rule.
How do you feel about the overtime proposal? You have until Sept. 4, 2015, to make your comments known to the U.S. Department of Labor. Start at www.regulations.gov.
column by BAXTER TROUTMAN
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Arcadia. A citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.