New Hampshire Bulletin: Millions more workers would receive overtime pay under proposed Biden administration rule

Salaried workers who have been ineligible for overtime pay would benefit from a proposed Biden administration regulation.

The Department of Labor’s new rule would require employers compensate full-time workers in management, administrative, or other professional roles for any overtime worked if they make less than $55,068 annually. Currently, the salary threshold is $35,568. The change is expected to affect 3.6 million workers.

The rule would also provide automatic changes every three years to the salary level to keep up with changes in earnings. U.S. territories that are subject to the federal minimum wage would have these same overtime protections, which rolls back a Trump administration change made in 2019.

“I’ve heard from workers again and again about working long hours, for no extra pay, all while earning low salaries that don’t come anywhere close to compensating them for their sacrifice,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su in a statement.

The new standard salary level proposed by the agency would be tied to the 35th percentile of weekly earnings of salaried workers in the lowest-wage region of the country. There is voter support for a change in the current regulations. According to a 2022 Data for Progress survey of likely voters, 65 percent said they either strongly supported or somewhat supported raising the salary threshold for overtime pay.

The rule will go through a public comment period as part of the rulemaking process to give supporters and opponents time to offer feedback. The process can take months, which could mean it won’t be finalized until next year. Labor rights advocates and economists say that people working in retail, restaurants and healthcare would be among the workers most affected by the regulation.

Judy Conti, director of government affairs at the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy nonprofit, said many workers who do overtime eligible work are paid just over the current threshold so their companies can avoid paying time-and-a-half. The proposed rule would help address this, she said.

“A lot of these dollar stores call people managers and supervisors and pay them $36,000 a year. Then they claim that they’re overtime exempt and they may do a little managing and they may do a little supervising, but mostly they’re working the cash register or they’re stocking shelves or they’re unloading in the back. They’re not doing work that is considered truly bona fide executive, professional or administrative work,” she said.

Conti added that this rule would provide incentive to employers to manage employee time wisely or hire more workers to handle the workload.

“… There’s [currently] no incentive to really manage that time wisely and see if it should instead be spread to other people,” Conti said.

Read the full article at New Hampshire Bulletin.

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