Today, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) introduced the Restoring Overtime Pay Act, which would update the Fair Labor Standards Act to restore overtime pay protections to millions of workers—giving 12 million workers new or strengthen rights to get paid overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week.
Far too many salaried workers are not covered by overtime protections, because the threshold of $23,660 per year has not kept up with wage growth or inflation and is therefore far too low. In 2016, the Labor Department updated the overtime rule to help workers get a fair return on their work. However, business interests have attacked the rule in the courts and the Trump administration has strongly signaled that they intend to weaken the rule.
51 organizations, including the EPI Policy Center and the National Employment Law Project (NELP), signed a letter in support of the legislation, which would update overtime protections to the same standard as in the 2016 rule. The Restoring Overtime Pay Act would:
- Set the salary threshold for the executive, administrative, and professional exemption at the 40th percentile of earnings for full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage U.S. Census region
- Set an automatic update every 3 years
- Require (as is already the case) that the duties test also be satisfied for the exemption to apply
“Wages have been flat for workers in this country for 35 years, because the business lobby has been pushing for workers to get a smaller slice of the pie,” said Heidi Shierholz, Director of Policy at the EPI Policy Center and former Chief Economist of the Department of Labor. “The erosion of the ability of workers to get overtime pay is a textbook case of the power of businesses to take money out of the pockets of workers and pad the pocket of CEOs and top one percenters. It’s time for workers to get a fair return on their work.”
In addition to this legislative effort in Congress, the EPI and NELP are encouraging progressive state policymakers to pursue action to improve overtime rights at the state level.