Big news from the Department of Labor: final regulations released this week will ensure that millions more working people across the country are eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay when they work over 40 hours per week.
Under the rules in effect since 2004, salaried employees in managerial and other professional positions are only eligible for overtime pay if they are paid less than $23,660 annually—a salary low enough to leave a family of four in poverty. As a result of these outdated rules, millions of women are working long hours for little pay, sacrificing time with their families and struggling to make ends meet. But the new overtime rules will raise that salary threshold to $47,476 starting in December, which means all workers making less than that—a group that is mostly women—will get overtime pay if they work over 40 hours in a week, or more time with their families without a cut in pay if their employers don’t want to compensate them for extra hours. The new rules also ensure that the salary threshold won’t erode as it has in the past by providing for automatic adjustments to reflect rising wages.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 6.4 million women will be newly eligible for overtime pay or see their existing rights strengthened under the new overtime rules. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that, under the slightly higher salary threshold originally proposed by DOL ($50,440), more than a third of all women workers who are currently exempt from overtime protections—and nearly half of currently exempt Black and Hispanic women workers—will be newly covered in 2016, including 44 percent of currently exempt single mothers. An estimated 7.2 million children will benefit from their parents’ overtime coverage under the new rules.
For some newly covered workers, overtime protection will mean hundreds of dollars in additional pay each week; for others, it will mean their employers will ensure that they no longer work more than 40 hours a week, giving them more time to spend as they wish. And as some employers shift schedules to minimize overtime costs, employees who had been involuntarily working part-time may gain the additional hours they want and need.
The new overtime rules are a huge victory for working women and their families. If you agree, send a message to DOL to thank Secretary Perez!