Since November 2013, the Economic Policy Institute has advocated that the Department of Labor should update the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime regulations, and in particular, should raise the salary threshold for exemption to at least $50,000 a year. The right to be paid for one’s overtime work is important for every worker because time is a valuable and scarce commodity, but it is especially important for parents and for their children. Parents are squeezed for time by the need to feed their families, get kids to school and see them safely home, monitor homework, get involved in school activities, and so much more, all while working longer and longer hours.
If the salary threshold is raised to $52,000, almost 19 million salaried employees will be covered and entitled to overtime, an increase of more than 15 million people compared to the number covered by the current threshold of $23,660. Of those 19 million employees, 6.5 million will be parents with at least one child under 18 years of age—this includes more than 3 million fathers and nearly as many mothers. The biggest beneficiaries of a higher exemption threshold will be the 9.8 million children whose parents will either no longer be required to work more than 40 hours in a week or will at least be paid time-and-a-half for their overtime hours.
As the figure shows, only 614,000 mothers and 593,000 fathers are guaranteed overtime pay by the current low threshold, and only about 2.5 million children benefit from their parents’ coverage. If the threshold is raised to $52,000, 3.3 million fathers and 3.2 million mothers will be guaranteed overtime protection, and 12.4 million children will benefit from it.