Obama Wants 5M More Americans to Get Overtime
His proposal would more than double current salary threshold to $50,440
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2015 7:12 AM CDT
President Barack Obama after signing a presidential memorandum directing Labor Secretary Tom Perez to modernize overtime protections on March 13, 2014, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – "Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve." Those are President Obama's words in a Huffington Post op-ed about a proposal he predicts would help up to 5 million workers in 2016: increasing the overtime salary threshold from $23,660 to $50,440, reports the New York Times. The president has the authority to set forth the regulation—spurred on by an Economic Policy Institute report on overtime and expected to be formally announced Thursday by Obama in Wisconsin—without congressional approval, the paper notes. The proposed change will be made available for public comment and may take months to finalize, the AP reports. "Without Congress, I'm very hard-pressed to think of a policy change that would potentially reach more middle-class earners than this one," Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who co-wrote the EPI report, tells Politico.

Unlike the rally to raise the minimum wage, which some argue doesn't help a good chunk of middle-class workers, the overtime rule would make eligible for time-and-a-half pay many who work as managers, notes Politico. Critics have produced a laundry list of potential issues, including employers compensating for the change by hiring workers at lower starting wages, as well as cutting hours back. And the Society for Human Resource Management warned in a statement yesterday that tracking salaried managers' time and adhering to strict schedules would "have a significant impact on employee morale," per USA Today. But the Times notes a cutback in overtime hours could boost hiring, while Politico says that less overtime for existing workers would mean "either more time with their families or more opportunities to work second jobs and put more money in their pockets."