Full-Repeal of DOL’s Overtime Rule is the Right Approach

Last week, Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced a bill to delay implementation of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime rule that raises the threshold for mandatory overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476. The Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (H.R. 5813) would slowly phase in the 100% increase in overtime salary threshold by December 1, 2019 instead of the current trajectory of December 1, 2016.

Even Democrats see the problems with the DOL’s new overtime rule. According to Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), one of the bill’s cosponsors, “The overtime rule hadn’t been adjusted in years and needed updating. But it’s good to make commonsense changes and add flexibility so the rule works for all businesses and workers can actually have a chance to get ahead. We don’t want to see lost hours or shifts in job responsibility.”

While Rep. Cooper is correct in saying the rules haven’t been updated recently, there is a logically reason it hasn’t. Federal mandates on how much employers can pay their employees are bad policy and cause many problems for both the business and the worker. As the Congressman hinted it in his statement, raising the overtime rule will cause employers to move salaried professional employees to hourly wage earners or even part-time employees and will destroy workplace flexibility.

Delaying implementation of the rule may help on the margins, but the best solution is to stop implementation altogether. The Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act (H.R. 4773) has 190 co-sponsors and would do just that. Unfortunately the bill has not received a vote as of now, but a provision defunding the rule has been added to the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

Passing legislation stopping or defunding the overtime rule is the right approach to this misguided effort by the DOL. Simply delaying implementation only kicks-the-can down the road without empowering employers and workers with the freedom to choose what’s best for them.

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