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Obama will order an expansion of eligibility for overtime

Posted Mar 12, 2014 7:02 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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President Obama will direct the Labor Department to draft new regulations to expand eligibility for overtime pay.

The new restrictions will curb the number of employees currently defined as executive or professionals who are exempt from overtime requirements, report the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

Currently employers can’t deny overtime pay to any salaried worker who makes less than $455 per week. Obama wants to “significantly increase” the salary level, the Times says. Current rules defining who is an executive would also change. Now the rules allow a person who spends only 5 percent of work time supervising others to be classified as exempt. Under Obama's proposal, employees would have to perform a percentage of “executive” work to be exempted from overtime requirements.

An unnamed White House official told the Wall Street Journal that overtime rules have eroded over the years. "For example, a convenience store manager or a fast-food shift supervisor or an office worker may be expected to work 50 or 60 hours a week or more … and not receive a dime of overtime pay," the official said.

The Times says Obama’s authority to order a rule change comes from the Fair Labor Standards Act. Past presidents, including President George W. Bush, “used similar tactics at times to work around opponents in Congress,” the Times says.

Some contract lawyers who do document review work have filed suits contending they are entitled to overtime pay. ABAJournal.com covered the suits here and here.

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