Labor Sec. mum on timing for overtime rule

Labor Secretary Tom Perez said Wednesday his agency is working to complete new overtime regulations that were due last month — but he declined to say when the when the contentious rule would come out.

“We’re actually working overtime on this, congressman,” Perez told lawmakers during a House Education and Workforce Committee hearing to discuss the Department of Labor’s 2016 budget. “If you work extra, you should be paid extra.”

Asked about the timing, he simply repeated to The Hill that the agency is working “overtime” on the proposal.

The Labor Department is looking to expand the number of workers who qualify for overtime payy. Salaried employees who qualify for overtime earn time-and-a-half wages when they work more than 40 hours in a week — but many don’t qualify under the current regulations.

Employees who make more than $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, are considered management and are not eligible for overtime pay.

So companies are only required to pay their regular wages, even if they work more than 60 hours in a week.

Perez called this a “raw deal” for workers.

“The assistant manager at a fast food restaurant who puts in 60-70 hours a week for $455 and spends almost all of their time performing the same work as the employees they supervise and who does not get overtime is getting a raw deal,” Perez told lawmakers. “We are updating the rule to prevent this situation.”

The Labor Department’s new rules would raise the salary threshold for workers, so overtime pay is available to previously ineligible employees. 

The question is, by how much? Perez wouldn’t say.

Some Democrats have called for the Labor Department to raise the threshold to $54,000 a year, while other lawmakers are looking for something closer to $42,000.

The Labor Department’s overtime rule was due on Feb. 15, but the agency has already missed that deadline. Perez would not provide an updated timeline, but he did say the rule is expected to be released in the coming months.

Perez also spoke about the Labor Department’s efforts to increase employment by boosting job opportunities around the country.

“We’re,” he joked. “That’s what we do. We connect job seekers with businesses that want to grow.”


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