Last summer, President Obama announced plans to revisit rules for overtime pay, and so he has:
The Obama administration will unveil a new rule Wednesday that would make millions of middle-income workers eligible for overtime pay, a move that delivers a long-sought victory for labor groups.
The regulations, which were last updated more than a decade ago, would let full-time salaried employees earn overtime if they make up to $47,476 a year, more than double the current threshold of $23,660 a year. The Labor Department estimates that the rule would boost the pockets of 4.2 million additional workers.
The move caps a long-running effort by the Obama administration to aid low- and middle-income workers whose paychecks have not budged much in the last few decades, even as the top earners in America have seen their compensation soar. The last update to the rules came in 2004, and Wednesday’s announcement is the third update to the salary threshold for overtime regulations in 40 years.
“Along with health care reform this is one of the most important measures that the Obama administration has implemented to help middle-wage workers,” said Jared Bernstein, a former chief economist to Vice President Biden and a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
About 35 percent of full-time salaried employees will be eligible for time and a half when they work extra hours under the new rule, up significantly from the 7 percent who qualify under the current threshold, according to the Labor Department.
…The administration’s rule would benefit women, minorities and young workers the most, according to estimates from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. The change will go into effect Dec. 1 of this year.
Naturally, just as they did when the President first proposed a change, some employers are having a hissy about it:
The shift was swiftly criticized by small business owners, nonprofit groups and universities that say they may have to switch some salaried workers to hourly positions to afford the new threshold. And instead of seeing bigger paychecks, some salaried workers may be assigned fewer hours, they said.
“For many of these types of employees they’re going to be viewing it as a demotion,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations for the National Retail Federation. “They’re going to have to clock in and clock out. They’re no longer going to have flexibility at work.”
But some labor groups and unions said the change was long overdue. Many people putting in 50 to 60 hours a week without overtime are actually earning less than the minimum wage when all of their hours are taken into account, they said.
Which is entirely the point. Employers don’t like the rule because it makes it harder for them to exploit workers, and their concern trolling on behalf of their employees is rubbish. Their workers won’t get “a demotion” unless their employers cut their hours. They won’t lose “flexibility” unless their employers take it away.
So, you know, employers could just not do that.
Of course, if employers were inclined to do the right thing, we wouldn’t need our President to issue guidelines instructing them to pay their employees a livable wage in the first place.