For more and more American workers, putting in work weeks longer than 40 hours is becoming the norm. However, working more than 40 hours per week has not necessarily meant getting paid for more than 40 hours per week. Yet with President Obama’s recent proposal to change the rules concerning overtime pay, many more people may find themselves with bigger paychecks as a result of their extra hours.
What the Law Will Do
In essence, the overtime pay proposal will make workers who earn less than $50,440 annually eligible for overtime pay. Under the current rules, the salary threshold is $23,660, which means millions of workers would be eligible for extra pay. According to the Labor Department, the change could give back to workers more than $1.3 billion per year. However, before everyone starts to assume they will be receiving bigger paychecks, there are many factors that must be taken into consideration.
How the Law Will Affect Businesses
Needless to say, most businesses are not happy at the proposed rules changes. By making more employees eligible for overtime pay, employers will then be faced with a decision. They can either pay their employees the extra money, or possibly reduce hours or lay off employees in an effort to keep their costs down. In addition, businesses can reduce an employee’s rate of pay in order to keep them from earning any more in salary, even if they are working more than 40 hours per week. While this may sound as if it’s illegal, the fact is employers cannot be told to pay employees any certain amount of money. So long as they are following state and federal laws by paying at least minimum wage, they are free to do as they choose.
For employees, there are many potential upsides to this proposal. For example, lower-paid managers who had previously been classified as “exempt” would now be considered “non-exempt,” meaning any hours they work over 40 would be subject to overtime pay. Some employees may also get a raise, since their employers may decide it is cheaper to do this than pay them for overtime. And for those who may be looking for part-time jobs, the overtime pay proposal could work in their favor as well. If employers choose to stop letting employees work overtime, they may instead hire part-time workers to make up the difference, which could inadvertently lead to job growth.
As with any type of proposal, there is always a downside for someone, and this proposal has many potential downsides for employees. In addition to hours being reduced, employers could also decide to lower a person’s base rate of pay to make sure they don’t make any more money despite still working more than 40 hours. Along with a possible reduction in pay, benefits packages could be greatly altered. Workers who find themselves reclassified as non-exempt employees may find it harder to accrue vacation or leave time, have fewer health benefits and no longer be eligible for profit-sharing or other bonus programs.
So as lawmakers begin the process of discussing the overtime pay proposal, both employees and employers will find themselves very interested in the results. No matter what the ultimate ruling may be, both sides are sure to feel both positive and negative effects.