Obama Goes It Alone to Expand Overtime Pay

Aims to limit exemption for 'executive or professional' workers

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 12, 2014 7:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Obama is acting to ensure overtime for millions of workers who may currently be working the hours without getting the pay. As it stands, workers ranging from fast-food managers to computer experts may be labeled "executive or professional" by their employers; that designation lets their bosses avoid paying them overtime, the New York Times explains. Obama's new rules, which will face public comment before being finalized, would change that. "Under current rules … you can spend 95% of the time sweeping floors and stocking shelves, and if you’re responsible for supervising people 5% of the time, you can then be considered executive and be exempt," says a liberal think tank rep.

Right now, some salaried workers may not be eligible for overtime if they make more than $455 per week, or some $24,000 per year, the Wall Street Journal notes. That level was set in 2004, and experts note that inflation has rendered it even less effective. Obama looks likely to raise that threshold to an amount that's not yet clear, though a recent paper suggested $984 per week, or about $50,000 yearly. Conservatives are opposed to the move, with one telling the Times it could ultimately result in job cuts: "If they push through something to make a certain class of workers more expensive, something will happen to adjust."

President Barack Obama speaks Tuesday, March 11, 2014, during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.
President Barack Obama speaks Tuesday, March 11, 2014, during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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