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Oregon live: Oregon congressman, others want to pump the brakes on overtime reform

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Washington, July 14, 2016 | comments

U.S. Congressmen Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) introduced legislation Thursday to make the phase-in of the new federal overtime rule more gradual.

As it stands now, the rule, which will go into effect on Dec. 1, updates the threshold at which salaried "white collar" employees are eligible for overtime. Right now, employees who make $23,660 or more per year are frequently exempt from paid overtime. After Dec. 1, that number changes to $47,476, which means employees who make less than $47,476 per year will be eligible for overtime pay.

The increase is dramatic but that's in part because the threshold has only been updated twice in the last 40 years.

The Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act would spread the new threshold increase out over three years, beginning with a 50 percent increase Dec. 1 to $35,984.

According to a press release put out by the congressmen, "Each year following, the salary threshold will be raised by $74 per week until December 1, 2019, when we reach the Department of Labor's proposed $47,476 threshold."

In the release, Congressman Schrader says, "The current overtime threshold is horribly outdated and needs to be raised as both employees and employers navigate our changing economy." He adds: "This bill will do exactly that without disrupting the way businesses operate and employees are paid."

Schrader says he is concerned that employers haven't had time to plan for the sizable increase on Dec. 1. The law passed in May.

"Without sufficient time to plan for the increase, cuts and demotions will become inevitable, and workers will actually end up making less than they made before," says Schrader. "It's long past time we strengthen overtime pay protections for American workers in a meaningful and effective way."

For the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act to be put into place, it would have to pass the House and the Senate and then President Obama would have to sign it into law. Since Congress is on recess, Carlee Griffeth, spokesperson for Congressman Schrader, said, "There's not going to be a lot happening for the next two months."

However, they plan to focus on the issue in September.

When asked if she really thought the act would go through, Griffeth said, "We hope so."

 

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