Biden rule would give overtime protections to millions more workers

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(The Hill) — A new proposed rule would extend overtime pay to 3.6 million more salaried workers, ensuring they receive extra pay for long hours, the Department of Labor announced on Wednesday.

The rule would guarantee overtime pay for most salaried workers earning less than $1,059 a week, or about $55,000 per year. It will go through a notice of proposed rulemaking for public comment for 60 days and comes after the Biden administration reached out to employers, workers and unions to inform the proposal.

The rule would also involve automatically updating the salary threshold every three years to reflect current earnings data in order to prevent future erosion of overtime protections.

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And it would restore a Labor Department regulation that was practiced from 2004 to 2019 but ended during the Trump administration that ensured workers in U.S. territories who are subject to federal minimum wage have the same overtime protections. Since then, the salary threshold has been $35,568.

The rule, which is subject to a public commentary period and wouldn’t take effect for months, would have the biggest impact on retail, food, hospitality, manufacturing and other industries where many managerial employees meet the new threshold.

“For over 80 years, a cornerstone of workers’ rights in this country is the right to a 40-hour workweek, the promise that you get to go home after 40 hours or you get higher pay for each extra hour that you spend laboring away from your loved ones,” acting Labor Secretary Julie Su said in a statement.

“I’ve heard from workers again and again about working long hours, for no extra pay, all while earning low salaries that don’t come anywhere close to compensating them for their sacrifices,” she said.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, almost all U.S. hourly workers are entitled to overtime pay after 40 hours a week, at no less than time-and-half their regular rates. But salaried workers who perform executive, administrative or professional roles are exempt from that requirement unless they earn below a certain level.

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Under the new rule, some 300,000 more manufacturing workers would be entitled to overtime pay, according to the Labor Department. A similar number of retail workers would be eligible, along with 180,000 hospitality and leisure workers, and 600,000 in the health care and social services sector.

Su was nominated by President Biden for the Labor secretary post in February but has not been confirmed by the Senate, with her nomination at a standstill without support from moderate Democrats.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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