Sen. Sherrod Brown plans to reintroduce the Restoring Overtime Pay Act, a measure that would codify an Obama Administration rule that was defeated in 2016 after 21 attorneys general sued to block it.
According to Brown, the act would increase the overtime salary level from $23,660 per year to roughly $51,000 per year, which would make 4.6 million workers newly eligible for overtime pay.
“If you work extra hours, you should earn extra pay—plain and simple. The current salary threshold for overtime is so out-of-date that it leaves most workers behind, and fails to support millions of working families struggling to make ends meet,” Brown wrote in a recent newsletter.
“These are not rich executive we’re talking about,” the Ohio senator continued. “Our bill would mean money in the pockets of Ohioans making $38,000 or $40,000—workers like middle managers at banks and restaurants and grocery stores.”
The Obama-era rule would have brought the overtime salary threshold up to $47,476, up from a previous threshold of $23,660. Brown thinks this would provide a raise to more than 130,000 Ohioans, but conservatives think a law like this is “dehumanizing and economically damaging.”
In a 2016 op-ed for Fox News, Leadership Institute Vice President of Finance Joe Metzger objected to the fact these rules make it illegal “to pay for work product,” and instead mandate “that we pay only for time.”
“If we are compelled to pay for time, we have to track time precisely. That means we can’t let employees work from home because we can’t track their hours. Employees who leave early to pick up their kids must lose paid hours,” Metzger wrote. “An employee who works a late night must take time off that same week even if he would rather have time off the next week. Worst of all, every employee must start punching a clock while every minute of his day is scrutinized.”
Metzger noted that companies would likely “cut staff salaries” by the amount of overtime they expect to pay in order to adjust to the changes.
“If staff work overtime every week, they’ll receive the same salary as before, but if they work fewer hours, they’ll receive less money,” he said.
Metzger also said that the overtime rules would create a “two-tier employment system.”
“Lower-paid, second-class employees who lose their freedom and flexibility while being treated like children, and higher-paid, first-class employees who continue to enjoy all the benefits of a salary structure,” he concluded.
But Brown thinks his bill would provide a fix for workers who are “required to work 50, 60, or 70 hours a week, without getting a cent in overtime.”
“When work has dignity, people are paid the extra wages they’ve earned for the extra hours they work,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
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