Congress Expresses ‘Serious Concern’ Over New Overtime Rules

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Republicans issued a stern letter to federal labor officials Tuesday expressing concern over new rules aimed at overhauling workplace overtime regulations.

President Barack Obama has targeted overtime compensation as a key area in need of reform. The Department of Labor (DOL) has been tasked with changing regulations so more workers can qualify for overtime. Those opposed, however, note concern that the change could put undue stress on businesses and force them to reduce workers’ hours or limit salaried positions.

“We are writing today to express our serious concern,” the letter, which was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation, declared. “This one-size-fits-all rule would adversely impact all affected employers, especially small businesses. Instead of helping our nation’s workers, this rule will ultimately hurt them.”

The rule change would essentially increase the salary threshold to qualify for overtime. Managers, executives and administrators at the moment cannot receive overtime compensation if they have a salary above $23,660 annually. The rule change increases the threshold to $52,000 annually. The change could make an additional five million workers eligible for overtime.

“The belief that this rule change will increase millions of workers’ paychecks is simply shortsighted,” the letter continued. “To remain economically viable and keep the prices of their goods and services competitive, many businesses would be forced to take actions such as reducing workers hours or shifting salaried workers to hourly status.”

The president signed a memo in March 2014 compelling the DOL to increase the exemption threshold. The department released its proposed rule change June 30 but provided businesses and lawmakers only 60 days to comment. National Restaurant Association Vice President of Labor Angelo Amador warned that forcing the rule through makes the problems even worse.

“It also turns the definition of overtime on its head,” Amador said Tuesday at a congressional hearing. “They were given only sixty days to comment. Even the government, the Small Business Administration, asked for more time to review the proposed regulation and do economic studies on its impact and the Department of Labor said, you know, we’re not going to give you more time.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) hosted the hearing to warn lawmakers of how the rule could impact businesses. CEI has also released numerous studies examining its potential impact. It has also worked with business groups to organize congressional hearings on workplace regularity changes.

The letter was signed by 112 Republicans. Representatives [crscore]Collin Peterson[/crscore] and [crscore]Brad Ashford[/crscore] were the only Democrats to also sign.

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