Chances are you work hard. But are you eligible for overtime?

It turns out, the rules are changing fast, and if you're not sure where you (or your business) fit on the spectrum, you'll want to take a look.

Quick background. Nearly three years ago, the Obama administration tried to boost the annual salary threshold below which employees would have to be paid overtime.

Several states sued, however, and a federal judge blocked the increase from taking place. But now the Trump administration is trying to get at least some of those workers covered -- and several states are considering legal changes that would move the threshold way above the federal level.

Currently, the federal threshold is $23,660. If you earn less than that as an employee, anywhere in the country, you're almost certain to qualify for overtime.

Obama tried to raise the threshold to $47,500 but was rejected by the courts. Trump is trying to raise it to $35,300 by the year 2024.

However, if you work in one of several states -- or if you employ workers in them -- the federal law could become irrelevant.

That's because states are free to set a higher threshold than federal law, and thus require more employees to be paid overtime when they exceed 40 hours per week.

Among the current plans and proposals that could significantly change things:

  • Massachusetts is considering boosting its overtime threshold from $23,660 to $64,000.
  • In Washington State, the government is working on a plan to increase the threshold to  $79,872 (a 300 percent increase).
  • A Maine proposal would raise the threshold from $33,000 to $55,000.
  • Pennsylvania is weighing a plan to increase its state threshold to $47,000.
  • California's threshold is going up to $62,400.
  • New York State is raising it to $58,500.

Add these proposals together, and it could easily add millions of workers to the overtime-eligible category.  

Of course, where you stand on the issue of increased overtime might depend greatly on where you sit.

If you're an employee making under the threshold, you might be all in favor.

If you sit in the boss's chair, and especially if you worry sometimes about making payroll as things stand, you might be a little less excited.

One way or another, however, it seems like this is coming. And it's good to know the thresholds -- no matter how hard you work.

Published on: Aug 8, 2019
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