President Barack Obama announced a long overdue expansion of the income threshold under which workers are eligible for overtime pay, reported CBS News.
President Obama made the announcement in a Huffington Post editorial. Currently, the cutoff for overtime pay is $23,360 a year. Obama said the expansion will allow workers who make $970 per week eligible for overtime pay, which is time-and-a-half. When calculated on a yearly basis, the annual salary threshold will be increased to $50,440.
“We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded,” said Obama. “That’s how America should do business. In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”
CBS News noted how countless employers bend the rules in order to avoid paying overtime to employees. An employer can pay someone just above the current overtime threshold and give them a manager title while granting a small increase and responsibility. That loophole cheats the worker out of deserved pay.
The threshold was last updated in 2004, but inflation has surpassed it.
The increased overtime threshold will be more inclusive and will expand to more industries outside of retail and food service. Americans are often overworked and underpaid. The increase will be a welcomed change for workers, but employers will likely grimace at its implementation.
Several employers already concentrate on hiring more part-time workers because those employees are not eligible for overtime or other benefits. Unfortunately, there will likely be some employers that will expand its hiring of part-time workers to avoid paying more overtime. Despite this, the Economic Policy Institute said the threshold increase will include over 15 million current full-time workers.
In the twilight of his term, Obama is attempting to emphasize the issue of income inequality, which affects the lower- and middle-class. This announcement appears to be part of that effort.
“Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do exceptionally well?” asked Obama. “Or will we push for an economy where every American who works hard can contribute to and benefit from our success?”
Although a welcomed change, increasing the overtime threshold isn’t going to fix the 99 percent’s economic woes. Increased Wall Street regulation and breaking up the big banks are what’s going to really bring about real economic change.