Labor inches forward with overtime regs

Labor inches forward with overtime regs

The Obama administration is a step closer to issuing new overtime protections for millions of employees who previously didn't qualify.

The Department of Labor, which is looking to expand the number of workers who qualify for overtime pay, has sent the proposal to the White House for review.

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“President Obama believes that if you work hard, you should be rewarded for your effort,” Labor Secretary Tom Perez said Tuesday. “That if you’re playing by the rules and taking responsibility, you should be able to provide for yourself and your family.”

President Obama last year ordered the Labor Department to update the nation’s overtime rules. They were originally scheduled to be unveiled three months ago, but the agency is running behind schedule.

This is the next step in the process.

The White House’s Office of Management Budget conducts a formal review before federal agencies proceed with major rulemakings. The White House has three months to review the rules and work with the agency to suggest changes.

Once the White House approves, the overtime regulations will be proposed in the Federal Register and available for public comment.

At issue is which workers qualify for overtime pay.

Salaried workers who are eligible for overtime get paid time and a half when they work more than 40 hours in a week under the Fair Labor Standards Act. But many don’t qualify, under current regulations. 

Most employees who make more than $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, are not eligible for overtime pay under the current regulations. 

"The rules governing who is eligible for overtime have eroded over the years,” Perez said. "As a result, millions of salaried workers have been left without the guarantee of time and a half pay for the extra hours they spend on the job and away from their families.”

The overtime threshold has not been updated to match with inflation in more than a decade, and the Obama administration is looking to raise it so more workers qualify.

The question is how high will the Obama administration raise the threshold.

Lawmakers have suggested raising it anywhere from $42,000 to $54,000. 

The DOL’s proposal will not be available to the public until the White House completes the review.