The Slatest

Obama Announces Plan to Make 5 Million More American Workers Eligible for Overtime Pay

Employees before the midnight opening at a Best Buy in San Diego, Calif. on Nov. 25, 2011.  

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

President Obama announced on Monday night a proposed change to the overtime rules that would expand who was automatically eligible for overtime by 5 million workers. Obama’s proposal, which wouldn’t be implemented until 2016, would double the pay a salaried worker could make and still remain eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay from $23,660 to $50,440.

“Under the current federal rules last updated in 2004, workers who are paid by the hour or earn a salary of less than the threshold generally are eligible for overtime pay, while those with salaries of at least that amount who work in white-collar jobs generally aren’t,” the Wall Street Journal notes.

Obama announced the proposed change in a HuffPo op-ed.

Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That’s partly because we’ve failed to update overtime regulations for years – and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year – no matter how many hours they work. This week, I’ll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That’s good for workers who want fair pay, and it’s good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve – since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren’t. That’s how America should do business. In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.

“The administration has the power to issue the regulation, which would restore the overtime salary threshold to roughly where it stood in 1975 in terms of purchasing power, without congressional approval,” the New York Times reports. “Advocates on both sides of the issue expect the policy to be challenged in court and perhaps in Congress as well.”