New bill aims to nearly double overtime pay

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A new bill may help at least four million workers become newly eligible for overtime pay.

The Restoring Overtime Pay Act would increase the minimum salary threshold to $48,412, from $23,660, “codif[ying] the Obama administration’s 2016 overtime rule, which would have strengthened overtime protections for millions of workers,” according to its sponsors. Obama’s overtime rule was not enforced after an August 2017 ruling out of a federal district court in Texas blocked it.

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Patty Murray (D-Wa.) and U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced the bill Nov. 30 to address the overtime salary threshold, which the Trump administration has signaled it would lower.

The legislation aims to increase the salary threshold by creating a statutory basis, says Michelle Lee Flores, partner at law firm Cozen O’Connor practicing labor and employment in Los Angeles. There is currently no statutory minimum.

“It’s an interesting way to solve the problem,” she says. “Purely on party lines, my concern is that it will be viewed as supporting an Obama administration effort. Therefore it could fail given a Republican-controlled House and Senate.”

See also: DOL appeals decision on overtime rule

Fifty-one organizations, including the Center for American Progress and the Economic Policy Institute, endorsed the bill. The Society for Human Resource Management was not on the list, though.

“SHRM is participating in DOL’s current rulemaking on the overtime exemptions and salary threshold for overtime,” says Nancy Hammer, SHRM’s senior government affairs policy counsel. “As SHRM has stated in the past, when updating the threshold, DOL should use the same methodology they used for the last update in 2004.”

The House of Representatives referred the bill to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Flores says the bill is unlikely to see movement.

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