With A Swoop of His Pen Obama Makes Millions Workers Eligible For Overtime Pay



President Obama stood up for 135 million American workers today by using his pen and power make sure that workers get paid for all of the hours that they put in.




PRESIDENT OBAMA: For more than 75 years, the 40-hour workweek and the overtime that comes with it have helped countless workers like Nancy get ahead. And it means that when she’s asked to makes significant sacrifices on behalf of her company — which she’s happy to do — they’re also looking out for her, recognizing that that puts a strain on her family and — having to get a babysitter and all kinds of things, adjustments that she has to make. It’s just fair. It’s just the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, today, millions of Americans aren’t getting the extra pay they deserve. That’s because an exception that was originally meant for high-paid, white-collar employees now covers workers earning as little as $23,660 a year. So if you’re making $23,000, typically, you’re not high in management. If your salary is even a dollar above the current threshold, you may not be guaranteed overtime. It doesn’t matter if what you do is mostly physical work like stocking shelves, it doesn’t matter if you’re working 50 or 60 or 70 hours a week — your employer doesn’t have to pay you a single extra dime.

And I think that’s wrong. It doesn’t make sense that in some cases this rule actually makes it possible for salaried workers to be paid less than the minimum wage. It’s not right when business owners who treat their employees fairly can be undercut by competitors who aren’t treating their employees right. If you’re working hard, you’re barely making ends meet, you should be paid overtime. Period. Because working Americans have struggled through stagnant wages for too long.

Every day, I get letters from folks who just feel like they’re treading water. No matter how hard they’re working — they’re putting in long hours, they’re working harder and harder just to get by, but it’s always, at the end of the month, real tight. Workers like the ones with me here today, they want to work hard. They don’t expect a free lunch and they don’t expect to be fabulously wealthy, they just want a chance to get ahead.

So today, I’m taking action to help give more workers that chance. I’m directing Tom Perez, my Secretary of Labor, to restore the common-sense principle behind overtime: If you go above and beyond to help your employer and your economy succeed, then you should share a little bit in that success. And this is going to make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans, from managers in fast food and retail to office workers, cargo inspectors.

And we’re going to do this the right way — we’re going to consult with both workers and businesses as we update our overtime rules. We’re going to work to simplify the system to it’s easier for employers and employees alike. With any kind of change like this, not everybody is going to be happy, but Americans have spent too long working more and getting less in return.

So wherever and whenever I can make sure that our economy rewards hard work and responsibility, that it makes sure that it’s treating fairly the workers who are out there building this economy every day, that’s what I’m going to do. What every American wants is a paycheck that lets them support their families, experience a little bit of economic security, pass down some hope and optimism to their kids. That’s what we’re going to be fighting for. That’s what I’m going to be fighting for as long as I’m President of the United States.

The memo that President Obama signed today will offer overtime pay protections to 135 million workers. This change was long overdue, as corporate giants like Walmart have been abusing the system for years, and cost workers millions of dollars in lost overtime wages.

This is a common sense modernization of regulations that will help the people who need it most. Low wage workers who have found themselves classified as management and working for less than the minimum wage.

People who work hard every day deserve to be compensated for the hours that they work. It is a matter of economic fairness, and common sense.

The president is responsible for implementing regulations. The memo that he signed today was well within his power to update regulations.

Republicans will consider this another dictatorial move by the president, but in reality Obama is making sure that millions of workers get the compensation that they are entitled to.

35 Replies to “With A Swoop of His Pen Obama Makes Millions Workers Eligible For Overtime Pay”

  1. Obama warned them at the last SOTU that he was gonna use that pen. I worked in the restaurant industry for years and never got paid for alot of those hours. Its about time people get paid for the work they do.

  2. This is great but I’m curious to see if it really makes any effect on my region, where my $10 per hour job is considered really good pay but after working 40+ hours a week I net less than $17,500 per year which means my wife and I are just barely making it by.

  3. The POTUS is doing exactly what needs to be done. They are making it difficult for him and he is going forth. More power to him and his vision.

  4. This is mostly for salary non-exempt people who are called salary so the company doesnt have to pay them. But I am sure it also applies to anyone who doesnt get paid overtime

  5. The company that I work for employs thousands and has been one of the last ethical, standup companies left in the United States. They provide benefits for even part-time workers and are scrupulous about overtime and paying fair living wages. No one is asked to work off the clock and no one is cheated. Too bad it takes the President to force other employers to do the right thing. Go President Obama!

  6. Ok Mr President,
    Does this mean my husband will be paid for all of the mail he has delivered over the years, and be paid for all the over time he worked so hard for, even thou he is considered a part time employee, because he does not have his own route? He works over 50 hours a week sometimes, but no overtime. This is a government job, Right? Post Office is run on it’s own, but is a government employer. How come they get away without paying him his overtime.
    Cause it is the government and only THEY can get away with that, RIGHT???

  7. I hope this is correct and goes into effect soon! All I can say is IT”S ABOUT TIME! I think the pen should have swooped a long time ago!

  8. This is great, but the only thing that will happen is the companies will cut back on people’s hours so they cannot get overtime. The greed will always win out!

  9. This is a start Julie. I hope it leads to other employees such as your husband. If you like we can try and push for more regulations and rules in the future.

  10. This has always been a scam by greedy employers , to
    screw their employees . I´m glad we have such a caring and wonderful President . Thank you Mr. Obama!

  11. Every dollar that the lower and middle class tends to make goes back into the economy. It circulates. But when people make excessive wealth, in the billions it tends to be parked into off shore accounts. In other words, it gets taken out of circulation.

    The amount of money that is parked in offshore accounts, money essentially STOLEN from the lower classes is staggering. It’s estimated that 32-60 TRILLION is parked in off shore accounts.

    If we as a country were to seize that money as proceeds of crime like the DEA does every day to penny ante dope dealers we would be able to pay off the deficit three times over and have plenty of money to rebuild our infrastructure.

  12. It’s about time! I know this “exempt” business and it isn’t pretty. I am very happy to hear that they are going to cut down on the number of people who are “exempt” from overtime pay.

    My husband was a retail manager, and I watched as his wages and working conditions decreased every year during the 2000’s. Finally, in 2008-2010, there were weeks when my husband worked 60-70 hours and they paid them about $4/hour extra stipend because he was “exempt”. When his pay was divided by the number of hours he worked, he was making less per hour than many of the low-paid people who worked for him. It was shameful, and, believe me, he worked like a dog and he was never done.

    The “exempt” thing has been a way for companies to get around overtime rules for a long time. They call people “managers” (and often they are doing management tasks) but they don’t pay them decent managerial salaries but they are “exempt” from overtime. Thanks, Obama, for putting the kabosh on some of this!

  13. My husband is now a store manager of a very successful, well-established nationwide drugstore chain. He hasn’t been able to get a regional or even district position, so for now his is a store manager. It is what it is. We’re able to eat and pay bills, but not much else.

    Part of being a store manager means he’s a salaried employee. He works, on average, 60 hours per week. What’s worse is, he is EXPECTED to complete tasks that are distinctly un-managerial – like unloading delivery trucks.

    In the past, management would never be allowed or were supposed to do hourly-type work – but there he is, every Friday morning, unloading a truck. Its HUMILIATING for him, and takes time away from other truly management tasks. And remember – he doesn’t get overtime or time and a half. Just straight 40 hours of pay.

    I sure hope this bill means more money for us – or at least allows more hourly people to work in his store. A man in his early 60’s in management shouldn’t be unloading trucks.

  14. Read my response father down –

    My husband’s employer limits his one retail store to 6 employees, 4 that are non-exempt and cut their hours to the bare bones; exempt employees end up doing what the hourly employees should be doing. It translates to poor customer service and high turnover – people simply get burned-out – and store management having to work 60+ hour work weeks.

    This has been going on for YEARS. Exempt used to mean management worked RARELY, or OCCASIONALLY more than 40 hours per week – now it means regularly, as in weekly.

    Why is there is always money to increase the Board of Directors and the CEO’s salaries – but not workers at the bottom? Why is it OK for corporate types to get raises – but not the hourly folks?

    Why would raising hourly people’s wage increase prices, when prices haven’t increased when CEO’s and such take their obscene bonuses & compensation?

    WHY? Because corporate bonuses and compensation increases have come at the EXPENSE of hour…

  15. I worked in an escrow office for years. It was an 8 person office; of those people, 6 of us were paid as “management / exempt” (including me); only 2 were non-exempt. Blatantly against California law, but he got away with it for years.

    If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.

  16. Golly, Miss Julie! I’m surprised, very surprised this is going on at the USPS.

    What he should do is contact the American Postal Workers Union: http://www.apwu.org/index2.htm

    P.S. – I did my internship at a USPS Regional Center – so I know that you’re full of it.

  17. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but if this something he could do today, why wasn’t it something he could have done yesterday, or last month, or last year, or four years ago?
    What’s changed?

  18. James, the can has been kicked to the Labor Department to come up with the rules and regulations… I read somewhere that they think it will be fall before the regulations are flushed out.

  19. Certain groups of people have taken their employers to court over this definition of “management” and, in California, some have won based on California state law. I remember hearing about a group of RadioShack managers in California who claimed that they were not doing primarily management work and therefore should get overtime. They won based on California (not federal) law. This was several years back.

  20. 2014 will be tough. We have to be as tough as the Koch brothers and their minions and get the people riled up.. and the vote out!

  21. You are telling me that your husband, a part-time mail carrier for the Postal Union did not get overtime when working 50 hours a week? This sounds very suspicious to me. Did he talk to the union? Something is wrong here. I did look at the Postal Union site and it seems that anyone on the employee level who is working more than 40 hours, whether or not designated as part-time or full-time, should be getting overtime.

  22. I think Obama really wanted to work with the Congress. But as that is not happening, he is trying to figure exactly what he can do without going through Congress. So that’s why it has been taking so long…It’s only a year since he was inaugurated for the second time, and it’s been obstruction, obstruction, obstruction.

  23. If people are working for the same amount of money but fewer hours, that would be preferable to continuing to work 50-60 hours a week for a peanut salary. Most of the time my husband didn’t care about the overtime.. He really wanted to work fewer hours.

  24. My husband was also a retail manager for many years, and the hours just got worse and worse. With decreases in pay.. because part of their income was bonuses and sales incentives; they changed that formula every year.. meant lower income for the same amount of sales. Horrible. And the last CEO was sent packing after 5 years of lousy numbers… It was estimated that he earned 35 million bucks in that 5-6 years– while the employees worked longer and harder and made less. And their bosses (the manager’s bosses) were absolutely abusive and nasty.

  25. My husband was finally fired (in some ways a blessing) after a 12-year career with a retail chain. He finally applied for disability and is now collecting. He started to have serious spinal problems when he was in his mid 50’s. He had surgery and was out of work for about 3 months. Things got worse and worse when he came back. A year later, he was in a motor vehicle accident and was off 2 months because of that. He kept trying to work despite the pain from the motor vehicle accident (a bone did not heal correctly) and the spinal problems, but I can’t help but feel that the incredible physical demands of his “management” job, such as unloading trucks, moving around displays, stocking shelves (involving hauling boxes from one place to the other),etc. contributed to his spinal problems and kept his motor vehicle injuries from healing as they should have.

    We are very, very grateful that he did get disability and he also got a settlement from the woman who ran into him.

  26. Dose anybody know if it is legal for an hourly paid worker who is paid biweekly, if the worker works 42 hours the first week and 38 hours the second week the employer dose not have to pay over time because checks are bi weekly and based on 80 hours? Is this true? And if its illegal how do you end it without loosing your job?

  27. I wonder if this will apply to teachers. There are teachers all over the country who work unpaid days, go to conferences with and without students through the summer on unpaid time, and regularly work over on the standard 8 hour day. Teachers are paid by salary, so there is no overtime time pay. The starting salary for a teacher in our district is $28,000 right now, not too far above that $23,000 current limit.

  28. President Obama has TRIED to work with Congress – for years. It isn’t going to happen. They are determined / dedicated to undermining him. So, enough is enough. Now, he’s gone the Executive Order route, bypassing Congress.

    Somebody has got to get this country moving for the 99%

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