Not Getting Paid For Overtime? Obama Wants To Change That

Between five and ten million people could see raises if his plan succeeds.

Many American workers might find their incomes changing soon, as the Department of Labor is thinking about raising the overtime threshold. If you get overtime, you’re supposed to be paid time and a half for any hours over 40 a week — but many people don’t qualify and work extra hours without the extra pay.

Politico explains, “By law, any salaried worker who earns below a threshold set by the Labor Department must receive overtime. The current threshold of $23,660 lies below the poverty line for a family of four. The proposed rule is expected to raise that to somewhere between $45,000 and $52,000—closer to the median household income—greatly expanding the pool of Americans who qualify for overtime pay.”

As it stands now, the overtime threshold has not caught up to inflation, and in fact has been brought up to date only once in the past forty years. If it’s brought up to date again, as the Obama administration proposes, approximately five to ten million people will find their salaries increased.

In March, President Obama said, “Unfortunately, today, millions of Americans aren’t getting the extra pay they deserve. That’s because an exception that was originally meant for high-paid, white-collar employees, now covers workers earning as little as $23,660 a year. So if you’re making $23,000, typically, you’re not high in management."

"If your salary is even a dollar above the current threshold, you may not be guaranteed overtime," he continued. "It doesn't matter if what you do is mostly physical work like stocking shelves; it doesn't matter if you’re working 50 or 60 or 70 hours a week –- your employer doesn't have to pay you a single extra dime.”

Not everyone is a fan of this proposal. While Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination have come out in favor of the overtime threshold change, the Republican contenders have denounced it, and the Republicans in Congress are prepared to fight the update.

Politico reports that though he hadn't yet actually seen the proposal, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said the update “seems engineered to make it as unappealing as possible to be an employer creating jobs in this country.”