business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration plans to publish a new Labor Department rule today that will "make millions of middle-income workers eligible for overtime pay, a move that delivers a long-sought victory for labor groups.

"The regulations, which were last updated more than a decade ago, would let full-time salaried employees earn overtime if they make up to $47,476 a year, more than double the current threshold of $23,660 a year. The Labor Department estimates that the rule would boost the pockets of 4.2 million additional workers ... About 35 percent of full-time salaried employees will be eligible for time and a half when they work extra hours under the new rule, up significantly from the 7 percent who qualify under the current threshold, according to the Labor Department."

While labor groups said the change was long overdue, the story notes that there was criticism from business, nonprofits and universities, all of which said in various ways that the change could result in some of the affected employees actually making less money, since employers will not have to track and reduce hours to stay within budget.

The new rule will go into effect on December 1.
KC's View:
I must admit to having trouble relating to this rule. I am all in favor of preventing employees from being exploited or abused, and I certainly don't want to be locked into a we-always-did-it-this-way mentality. But my memory of being a salaried employee is that I stopped counting hours - which had upsides and downsides. The good employers went out of their way to compensate me - either with time or money - when I went above and beyond, and the bad ones didn't. And so my first impulse when I hear about this rule is that it assumes too much about inequitable employer-employee relationships. Though I have a feeling someone will write in to explain to me why and how I have this wrong ... and I welcome the email.