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House, Senate Members Introduce Legislation to Ensure Responsible Update of Federal Overtime Rules

Lawmakers in the House and Senate today introduced the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act, legislation that will ensure the Department of Labor pursues a balanced and responsible approach to updating federal overtime rules. The sponsors of the legislation—members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions—released the following statements upon introduction:
“In the 21st century workplace, we need to encourage policies that increase flexibility, reduce regulatory burdens, and create more opportunities for workers to pursue their dreams. Our nation’s outdated overtime rules are in need of modernization, but it must be done in a responsible way that doesn’t stifle opportunities for working families to get ahead. Unfortunately, the administration’s overtime proposal fails this test and should be sent back to the drawing board,” said House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI).
“The Obama administration's decision to drastically redefine overtime will hurt our workforce and our employers. It will lead to reduced hours, confusion for job creators, and will limit growth opportunities for employees," said Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), a member of the Senate Labor Committee. “It is important that workplace policies address the needs of both employees and employers. The Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act stops the Department of Labor from irresponsibly redefining the overtime threshold without understanding the real world consequences. It will also require them to start over and ensure that any new regulation on overtime considers the daily impact on our nation’s economy.”
“We agree federal overtime rules need to be changed and have said repeatedly we want to partner with the department in a serious effort to streamline and modernize overtime protections,” said House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN).  “Unfortunately, the department is pursuing an approach that will stifle workplace flexibility, make it harder for lower-income Americans to move up the economic ladder, and do nothing to provide employers more clarity and certainty. This bill will guarantee any update to federal overtime rules is done responsibly, openly, and in a way that doesn’t hold back those working hardest to get ahead.”
“This mandate on employers will hurt the lowest paid American workers the most, by reducing their opportunities for a promotion or a better job and making it all but impossible for workers to negotiate flexible schedules," said Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN). "In just one example of the dramatic effect it will have, some of Tennessee’s small independent colleges are expecting it to cost them a minimum of $1.3 million each—a giant figure that may cost the colleges’ students in tuition hikes and cost employees in job cuts.”

In 2014, the Obama administration began an effort to update the rules surrounding federal wage and hour standards. As part of that effort, the Department of Labor released a proposal that would more than double the salary threshold under which employees qualify for overtime pay. Concerns have been raised that the department’s proposed rule will result in workers having less flexibility and opportunity for advancement in the workplace. The proposal will also raise costs on small businesses, while doing nothing to streamline a complex and outdated maze of overtime rules.
With the department expected to release a final rule in the coming months, the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act will:
  • Prevent the department from finalizing a proposal that will limit opportunities for employees and place significant burdens on job creators;
  • Require the department to fully and accurately consider the economic impact of any rule on small businesses, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and others who will be affected;
  • Ensure future changes to the salary threshold accurately reflect the economic realities facing workers and employers by making clear automatic increases are not allowed under current law; and
  • Promote transparency and accountability by requiring any changes to the duties tests be made available for public review and comment.

To read the bill, click here.

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