Senate Democrats recently proposed legislation to amend the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and extend overtime pay to a larger number of salaried employees. The measure coincides with a similar regulatory change proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Restoring Overtime Pay for Working Americans Act, introduced by Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, the Chair of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, and eight of his Senate colleagues, would expand coverage for overtime pay nearly half of all salaried workers.
The bill is intended to boost the salary threshold for claiming executive, administrative, and professional exemptions under the FLSA:
- Workers are restricted from being paid a premium rate for the time they work in excess of 40 hours per week; currently, that threshold is $455, but the proposed legislation would gradually increase that to $1,090 per week, after which the figure would be tied to inflation.
- A modification to the executive exemption would boost the annual compensation threshold from $100,000 to $125,000.
- The definition of “primary duty” – a term used to determine whether FLSA exemptions apply – would be altered, giving consideration to workers, especially store and restaurant managers, who spend more than half their time on non-exempt tasks.
- Stiffer penalties would be imposed on employers who fail to properly track employees’ hours, wages, and bonuses in violation of FLSA record-keeping requirements.
According to Sen. Harkin, “Every worker deserves a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work, but because our overtime laws are out-of-date, Americans around the country who work long hours away from their families are denied a paycheck that reflects that work. That hurts their families and our economy. Plain and simple, if you have to work more, you should be paid more.”
The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group continue to monitor these and other changes in laws that impact hard-working Americans.