Industry groups press for last-minute changes to overtime rule

Industry groups press for last-minute changes to overtime rule
© Greg Nash

Industry and business groups are flocking to the White House to ask for last-minute changes to a new rule that will extend overtime pay to millions of American workers.

The Labor Department’s proposal would make all salaried workers who earn less than $970 per week, which is roughly $50,440 a year, eligible for overtime pay. The cut off now is at $455 a week, or roughly $23,660 a year for a full-time employee. 

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The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (ORIA) has had 14 meetings with groups since it received the final rule on March 14. The participants have included the National Federation of Independent Business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition of Franchisee Associations. 

American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), a trade association for those who provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, met with OIRA on April 11 to ask that the rule be implemented more slowly.

Gabrielle Sedor, the group’s chief operating officer, said Medicaid largely pays for the services her members provide, and those rates are set by states. While ANCOR supports updating the overtime regulation, she said putting it in place so quickly, without additional funding, threatens the industry as a whole.

“We’re asking for more time for implementation to give states an opportunity to figure out what this would mean for budgets and how to adjust the rates accordingly,” she said.

When the Department of Labor (DOL) made home-care providers eligible for minimum wage and overtime pay in 2013 by changing the definition of “domestic service employment” and “companionship services,” Sedor said the agency gave industry 15 months to comply.

“DOL knows the issues we have, and we have asked for that consideration again,” she said.

In addition to asking OIRA for more time to implement the rule, ANCOR members took to Capitol Hill on Thursday to lobby lawmakers for more Medicaid funding. 

“We support the intent of the rule,” Sedor said. “We do understand the threshold needs to be updated, and we agree that our workers work really hard and deserve to be paid. The challenge for us, specific to our industry, is that we are almost completely reliant on Medicaid funds.”

The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee was expected to discuss the overtime rule and the rising costs of doing business on Thursday, but the hearing was postponed. It has not yet been rescheduled.