Bill to increase salary level for overtime eligibility introduced in Congress

Legislation introduced in Congress last week would make overtime pay available to more people.

The bill — the Restoring Overtime Pay Act — would increase the overtime salary level from $23,660 per year to $48,412 per year. This would make about 4 million more workers eligible for overtime pay, provided they work more than 40 hours a week.

The measure was introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Patty Murray (D-WA), along with Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Mark Takano (D-CA).

It codifies the Obama Administration’s 2016 overtime rule, which was not enforced after an August 2017 ruling out of a federal district court in Texas blocked it.

The lawmakers said the bill is necessary because the Trump Administration has indicated that it is considering lowering the overtime salary level. That means that fewer workers would get overtime pay.

“People who work 50 or 60 hours a week should be paid the wages they’ve earned. Period,” Brown said. “When we don’t pay workers what they’ve earned, it drives down the value of work. Let’s make sure workers are paid for every hour they put in.”

Murray added that millions of Americans work more than 40 hours a week and still struggle to support their families.

“To help working families get ahead, we must build our economy from the middle out, not the top down,” Murray said. “So, while the Trump Administration continues to undermine protections for workers, I’m proud to introduce the Restoring Overtime Pay Act to provide a much-needed update to our nation’s overtime rules and give millions of families the financial security they need.”

Currently, only full-time, salaried workers who currently earn $23,660 annually – or $455 or less per week — are automatically guaranteed overtime pay when working over 40 hours per week. This bill would raise the minimum, bringing ion more people.

“In order to ensure that our economy works for all working people and not just the wealthy few, workers must be paid for every hour they spend on the job,” Scott said. “This means ensuring that low- and mid-wage salaried workers are not forced to work overtime without additional pay. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration’s Department of Labor has indicated they will not support a robust salary level that ensures adequate protections. The Restoring Overtime Pay Act will guarantee that more salaried workers get much-deserved compensation for every hour they spend on the job,” Scott said.

To calculate the salary level that’s eligible for overtime, the bill attaches the salary level to the 40th percentile of wages in the lowest wage census region. That would bump it up from $23,660 per year to $48,412 per year. It also requires automatic updates every three years to make sure it stays in line with the changes to the economy.

“This legislation is based on a simple principle: America’s workers deserve to be paid for all of the hours they work,” Takano said. “It is unacceptable for middle-class employees to be working 50- and 60-hour weeks without receiving the pay or time with their families that they earned. After four decades without a meaningful update to the overtime rule or a meaningful raise for middle-class workers, the time for modest tweaks to the overtime rule passed a long time ago. This is a moment for bold action on behalf of working families, and that’s what this legislation would deliver.”