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Overtime Proposal: One Way to "Cash In" May Be More Family Time

Journalists are among those who would be covered under a proposal to extend overtime benefits to salaried workers up to about $50,000. Credit: Pixabay.com.
Journalists are among those who would be covered under a proposal to extend overtime benefits to salaried workers up to about $50,000. Credit: Pixabay.com.
July 6, 2015

WASHINGTON – Working more than 40 hours a week without overtime pay is a fact of life for millions of salaried employees, but it's a fact the U.S. Department of Labor wants to change.

First unveiled last week, a proposal to extend overtime benefits to workers making up to about $50,000 a year is being published today – and is already attracting strong opposition from retail and restaurant interests. Kim Bobo, founding director at Interfaith Worker Justice, says the proposal has a number of positive components.

"It's good for workers in terms of their family time," she says. "A lot of folks won't be working these ridiculously long hours, and it's good for workers in terms of pay."

Bobo says bookkeepers, social workers, retail and restaurant managers, and many journalists would be covered in the proposed update to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Right now, only workers salaried at up to about $24,000 per year are guaranteed overtime pay.

Bobo offers a closer look at the demographics of the 11 million Americans who would become eligible.

"This is a proposal that will help lots of low-wage workers and middle-incomes workers," she says. "It will disproportionately help more women and people of color."

While 11 million workers would qualify, the Labor Department estimates only about five million would see bigger paychecks.

The National Retail Federation has warned that some managers may be demoted to hourly wages so employers can avoid the change.

Comments on the proposal are being accepted by the Labor Department beginning today.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD