Millions of Americans could start getting paid for working overtime

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FILE – In this April 22, 2015, file photo, a job seeker fills out an application during a National Career Fairs job fair in Chicago. The Labor Department said Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, applications for jobless aid rose 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

JOHNSON CITY (WJHL) – Millions of Americans may see some major changes to how much they are paid this year.

President Obama has proposed new rules which would dramatically expand the number of people eligible for overtime pay, affecting 5 million Americans’ salaries. The Obama administration proposed this rule in 2015, and it is set to take effect this year. It would mean if anyone making a salary under $50,400 dollars works over 40 hours in a week, they would get paid time and a half.

Right now, pay for working overtime is only guaranteed to salaried workers making less than $23,000 dollars a year.

Here is what the U.S. Department of labor said when it proposed the rule in 2015:

“We also believe that there are workers who will benefit from the fact that, rather than working 60-hours-a-week they will work 40-hours-a-week and at the same salary because they’ve effectively been working for free,” Secretary Thomas Perez with the U.S. Department of Labor said.

This would affect many employers like retailers, restaurants, and private colleges.

“The independent colleges of Tennessee have told me that it would cost them, each campus, more than a million dollars and at one campus in Tennessee, this new overtime rules increased tuition $850 per student because of the additional cost,” Senator Lamar Alexander said.

“Yes it will cost colleges money, but I think the biggest cost is in morale,” Milligan College president Bill Greer said. It’s going to become much more rigid in terms of when people can come in when they have to leave, etc., and it’s going to reduce flexibility.”

Greer said he would not be opposed to the change if it happened in increases over time. “But to double it in one fell swoop is such a massive move that we really don’t have the time to digest it carefully, and without a lot of impact and shock on our operations,” Greer said.

U.S. Senate Labor committee Chairman Lamar Alexander is working to stop this rule from taking effect.

“The most radical part of the Obama administration has been his labor policies. The most recent of which is a new overtime rule which is going to have hundreds of thousands more Tennesseans punching the clock on their way to work and on their way back out, they’re not going to like doing that. It’s going to give the employees less flexibility; it’s going to create more part time jobs, it’s going to cost more money,” Alexander said.

But the Department of Labor said the rule change is a critical first step to ensure Americans are compensated fairly and have a chance to get ahead. This rule is set to take effect two months after it is finalized. But at this point no word on when that will be. Alexander is introducing legislation to overturn this overtime rule.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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