WASHINGTON – Salaried workers who earn nearly $1,000 per week would become eligible for overtime pay under a proposal President Obama unveiled Monday, lamenting that too many Americans are working too many hours for less pay than they deserve.
The long-awaited overtime rule from the Labor Department would more than double the threshold at which employers can avoid paying overtime, from the current $455 a week to $970 a week by next year. That would mean salaried employees earning less than $50,440 a year would be assured overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week, up from the current $23,660 a year.
"We've got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded," Obama wrote in an op-ed in the Huffington Post. "That's how America should do business. In this country, a hard day's work deserves a fair day's pay."
To keep up with future inflation and wage growth, the proposal will peg the salary threshold at the 40th percentile of income, individuals familiar with the plan said. They requested anonymity to discuss the proposal ahead of the official announcement.
The president was to promote the proposal during a visit Thursday to La Crosse, Wis.
Obama's proposal aims to narrow a loophole that the president has long said some employers exploit to avoid paying overtime.
Employees who make above the salary threshold can be denied overtime if they are deemed managers. Some work grueling schedules at fast food chains and retail stores, but with no overtime eligibility, their pay may be lower per hour than many workers they supervise.
The existing salary cap, established in 2004 under President George W. Bush, has been eroded by inflation and now relegates a family of four making just above the cap into poverty territory.