President considering overtime expansion

By Frank Lewis

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If you are an Ohio resident who earns as much as $50,440 annually, you may soon qualify for overtime pay when working over 40 hours in a week. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said, following a call he made to President Obama and the Department of Labor (DOL), the president has announced a plan to expand the number of workers eligible for overtime pay.

Currently, the overtime salary threshold is $23,660 annually. Under the new rule, workers earning $50,440 annually will be eligible for overtime pay and in Ohio that could mean 160,000 workers in Ohio would be eligible for overtime pay within the first year of implementation.

“While wages for American workers have stagnated, hours spent on the job have increased,” Brown said. “When workers put in the extra time, it should be reflected in their pay. It’s past time to give more middle-class workers the opportunity to earn overtime pay. This will lift up our middle class and boost our economy.”

In January, Brown joined a group of 25 Senators in calling on the White House to increase the overtime pay threshold to include workers earning $1,090 per week and index the overtime threshold to inflation.

The group of 26 senators has called on the White House to strengthen overtime protections for workers. In a letter to President Obama, the senators urged the Administration to increase the overtime threshold to include workers earning $1,090 per week. The letter also argued for indexing the overtime threshold to inflation. While only 11 percent of salaried workers currently qualify for overtime pay, the senators’ proposal would make 47 percent of workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay when working more than 40 hours per week.

“While average salaries for middle-class jobs have declined, hours have increased,” Brown said. “That is unacceptable. We must ensure that workers receive the overtime they deserve. Helping more Americans make ends meet also boosts consumer spending and bolsters our economy. Too many middle-class workers have been working longer hours without additional compensation – it’s time for a change.”

In March 2014, President Obama directed the Department of Labor to revise rules defining who is eligible for overtime pay. Under current law, only people who earn $455 or less per week, roughly 11 percent of salaried workers, qualify for overtime pay when working over 40 hours. The senators highlighted that in 1975, 65 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. To meet that percentage, the threshold would need to increase to $1,327 per week.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.