Saturday, May 21, 2016

Obama’s Egregious Overtime Rules Attack Prosperity and Worker Rights

The Department of Labor’s new regulation regarding working hours ranks among the most outrageously destructive actions by the Obama administration in its two-term history. It is going to profoundly affect the lives of many millions of people, shattering dreams and smashing the human rights of workers to negotiate, produce, and achieve. 
By executive fiat, the Department has now said that time-and-a-half rules on worker pay apply to workers earning up to $47,476 per year (such specificity!) whereas they used to apply only up $23,660. The new rules apply to salaried as well as hourly workers. High-level executives (along with teachers and doctors) are exempt (how people will be classified is determined by a complicated test). 
An Obama administration spokesman said this is designed to address “both underpay and overwork.” Because a law alone cannot magically produce wealth, it will not address underpay. Employers do not have a secret closet stuffed with cash to which they have been denying workers access. Instead, workers will be cut back and/or reclassified by force of law. 
So yes, this edict will address overwork by forcing people to become poorer. This hits the white-collar job market hard and in ways that will upset the lives of millions of people. 
Want to work long hours to get ahead? Forget it. Your boss won’t let you for fear of violating the regulations. Your career opportunities are shut down. Or maybe you will get downgraded from salary to wages in order to make long hours possible. In either case, no accomplished American worker has had to account for his or her working hours for generations. It’s a freedom we enjoy as Americans. 
The National Retail Federation is right. These rules will affect every aspect of life for millions. It will destabilize family vacations because workers won’t be able to prepare by working extra. It will make salaried positions more elusive. It will thin the ranks of middle-level executives and impose strange record-keeping rules. It might result in millions of people taking a second job in order to pay the bills.


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