Obama Signs Order to Expand Overtime Pay

Working Americans may soon see some reprieve from outdated regulations that have long denied overtime pay for millions.

President Obama signed an executive order for the Labor Department “to ensure that workers are paid fairly for a hard day’s work.”

The directive is aimed at certain so-called white-collar employees, who are currently exempt from a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirement to pay workers time and a half for all hours worked in excess of a 40-hour work week. Since 2004, white-collar employees who make at least $455 per week have not been covered under the overtime-pay requirement.

Economic Policy Institute Vice President Ross Eisenbrey says some of the professions he expects to benefit most are secretaries, low-level managers, bookkeepers and marketing assistants.

“As the rules stand now, an assistant manager at a fast-food restaurant who spends 95 percent of his or her time cooking fries, running a cash register, sweeping floors and moving supplies into and out of the freezer can be denied any overtime pay and work 60 to 70 hours a week if his salary is at least $23,660 a year,” said Eisenbrey. “Because he is exempt [from overtime protection], the hourly rate of his salary can fall below the minimum wage; ‘executives’ are excluded from the minimum wage protection, too.”

The new overtime rules join a slew of recent executive orders from the president to help working Americans without having to go through a Congress that has been stalemated by Republicans. So far this year, Obama has used executive order to raise the minimum wage for employees of government contractors and reform job training programs.