Millions More Americans to be Eligible for Overtime Pay - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Millions More Americans to be Eligible for Overtime Pay

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A worker at a local grocery store. Approx. 4 million more Americans will be eligible for overtime pay. (Photo: WBOC) A worker at a local grocery store. Approx. 4 million more Americans will be eligible for overtime pay. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- More than 4 million people will become newly eligible for overtime pay under rules issued Wednesday by the Obama administration regarding salaried workers.

Vice President Joe Biden announced the changes at a small business in Columbus, Ohio. He says in the fast food and retail industries in particular, a lot of managers work long hours and are paid only a salary that does not fall far above the income of the hourly workers they supervise who do receive overtime pay.

Under the new rules, the salary threshold at which companies can deny overtime pay will be doubled from $23,660 to $47,500. That would make about 4 million more salaried workers eligible for overtime pay.

"Either way, the worker wins," said Vice President Biden on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Business groups, however, argued that the changes will increase paperwork and scheduling burdens for small companies and force many businesses to convert salaried workers to hourly ones to more closely track working time. Many employees will see that as a step down, they said.
           
"With the stroke of a pen, the Labor Department is demoting millions of workers," David French, a senior vice president for the National Retail Federation, said. "Most of the people impacted by this change will not see any additional pay."

People on the streets of Delaware have differing opinions, too. Lynne Huggins of Dover says the regulations will make businesses more productive.

"They're going to have happier people, their employees are going to work better," she said. "Employees will actually find more efficient ways of getting their work done and work with their staff. Yes, more respect."

One woman sees it as a good step forward, but worries about people making salaries above the $47,000 threshold.

"If you work in like the social services arena, you're working all time of night," said Rhonda Seward, an hourly worker who looks forward to being salaried some day. "You may get a call in the middle of the night to go pick a child up. So does that mean the person that makes less gets overtime for that, but the person that makes more...are they just hey get up out of bed at 2 o'clock in the morning and go and do this?"

The new overtime threshold is set to take effect Dec. 1. Many of Delmarva's local lawmakers made statements about the new rules once they were announced Wednesday.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
"It's important that all people are treated fairly in the workplace. I look forward to carefully reviewing the final rule set today by the Obama Administration on overtime regulations. Americans who work hard to earn a living should be compensated justly for the time they spend doing it."

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.
“It’s important that we balance workers’ rights to make a living wage with supporting business growth in Delaware,” said Sen. Coons. “I’ve heard from a number of constituents, including several small business owners and I, along with my staff, will closely analyze this new rule to see how it will impact Delawareans.”  

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
“Right now, millions of Americans are working more than full-time but are not being paid their fair share. A full-time job should not mean full-time poverty. I applaud the President’s action to increase access to overtime pay. Hardworking families deserve a government on their side. This action will help those trying to get to the middle class get there, and help those already in the middle class stay there.”

Congressman Andy Harris, R-Md.
"The Labor Department's drastic changes to the federal overtime rule will force millions of workers to adhere to strict limits on the number of hours they work, lose their ability to work from home, and diminish their opportunity for advancement in the workplace. As a result of the new rule, many businesses will need to lay off employees and actually reduce hourly pay. Instead of working with Congress to update the federal overtime rules, President Obama unilaterally made yet another job-killing decree, which will have devastating consequences on our economy and working families." 

Congressman John Carney, D-Del.
“I appreciate and support the Department of Labor’s efforts to address stagnant wages. There’s broad consensus that this has been a problem since the recession in 2008. That being said, I have some concern that this rule may have unintended consequences. I will continue to monitor the impact of this regulation closely. Our primary focus should be creating conditions that allow businesses that pay middle class wages to grow and succeed."

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