The Obama administration is moving forward soon on its plan to provide overtime pay protections for low-salaried workers who don’t currently qualify for them.
It is a move that was announced personally by the President several months ago and he intends on following through on them. This month the Department of Labor has been directed to set a new threshold for who will qualify.
Right now, as it stands, employers can pay full-time workers a low salary, and force them to work 50, 60, 70, and even 80 hours without paying them a single dime extra. This is a perversion of the process, and skirts around overtime rules, by having companies merely claiming certain workers are “exempt,” even if they aren’t that high up the corporate ladder.
This is a big deal and is HUGE in terms of what it means for workers. It’s a game changer.
Some expect salaried workers earning as high as $52,000 a year to receive overtime pay for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours. Right now the threshold is set at $23,660.
If all goes as planned, the liberal Economic Policy Institute estimates that 3.5 million workers will become eligible for extra pay if the threshold is raised to $42,000. As many as 6.1 million workers would qualify if it approaches $52,000.
To put things in perspective, potentially 47 percent of the nations workers are about to be affected. This is just more good economic news from the President.
You will likely hear Republicans gripe that there will be consequences. Employers will surely devise new game plans to make sure workers don’t get paid more, or it will be bad for business since all that extra payroll has to come from somewhere. Don’t let this rhetoric fool you. Part of what’s so convincing about the President’s proposal is that it’s not even as rich as it was back in 1975 when 65 percent of workers were eligible for overtime.
In addition, the agency is set to amend how “exempt” duties are determined, thereby potentially including many more workers as eligible for overtime. Right now to be classified as “exempt,” a workers primary duty must include “the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.” But, this is very vague, according to Judi Conti, NELP’s federal advocacy coordinator. She says:
It’s basically meaningless (the way it is worded), since every job requires use of some independent judgment.
She would much rather the department require that 51 percent of a workers time be spent on exempt duties. This would resolve concerns that low-paid workers are just given a title of manager without being given much managerial power, Conti says.
What to expect going forward:
The Department of Labor will release their “proposed” rule changes this month. Then, the comment-and-review process will take a few months before anything is finalized. This is common with any rule change. Employers will be expected to start abiding by the new changes before Obama even leaves office.
There is one big but, though. If the American people elect a Republican President, the new incoming President (Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, etc) could direct the Department of Labor to suspend the new rule changes.
This is why it’s more important than ever at making sure people know what they are voting for in this next election. This is just another big change in millions of peoples lives that can be accredited to voting for President Obama. Now, that’s change you can believe in.
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H/T: White House.gov | Featured Image: You Tube screen capture