Don't go into overtime

Adjusting rules on time-and-a-half pay won't help economy
President Obama's ploy to curry favor with voters this election year now includes talk of tweaking rules for overtime pay to allow more people to qualify for it.

Imagine hearing this news item:

“President Obama signed an executive order directing the Labor Department to propose rules mandating ‘casual Fridays’ for all hourly, non-uniformed employees working 30 or more hours per week.

“‘All American workers, not just the privileged few, deserve to end their work week in casual attire,’ he said during a news conference at a Gap outlet store in Alexandria, Va. ‘This economy needs to get moving again, and it needs to get moving more freely in relaxed-fitting khakis.’”

That didn’t really happen, of course.

But is it really out of the realm of possibility, considering the meaningless, populist ploys this president has trotted out to try to save his party in November, as well as his own presidential legacy?

With his push for a minimum-wage hike and attack on the so-called gender “wage gap,” there also is this: He is directing the Department of Labor to overhaul overtime rules so more workers qualify for time-and-a-half pay.

Under current rules, salaried workers making more than $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, aren’t eligible for time-and-a-half overtime if some of their work is considered supervisory.

“I’m going to use my pen to give more Americans the chance to earn overtime pay that they deserve,” the president said recently. “If you have to work more, you should get paid more.”

But business experts and economists have said Obama’s plan likely will have the opposite effect of what is intended, which is about what one would expect from a leader with little prior business experience.

Business owners likely will cut employees or reduce pay – neither of which would help the sagging economy. Employment-law litigators might be about the only labor-market sector guaranteed to benefit from the rule changes.

“Be a boom to employment among lawyers, but otherwise not a big deal,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Those familiar with the process say it will take the Labor Department up to 18 months to come up with the new rules. By then, maybe the president could be giving out candy canes and ponies.

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Mon, 03/27/2017 - 21:46

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