Monday, November 24, 2014

There is no easy fix for the overtime-pay problem


Those of you who are long time readers know they I’ve long rallied for changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The law is overly complex, anachronistic, and nearly impossible for compliance by employers.

Last week, I read an article on politico.com arguing that the FLSA’s exemptions need to be rewritten to make it easier for employees to qualify for overtime pay. This is not the right solution to this country’s wage-hour problems. You don’t fix one problem by creating another, i.e., punishing small and midsize employers by requiring them to start paying groups of employees overtime en masse. What will be their solution to this newly created problem? Reverse engineering. They will look at each employee’s W-2 wages for the past years, and calculate the appropriate lower hourly wage (or salary) to play each newly overtimed employee that will result in the same annual W-2 figure with the time-and-a-half rolled in.

This is not a solution. It’s an administrative burden that will not put more money in workers’ pockets. The solution is to make FLSA compliance easier for employers by simplifying decades-old regulations.

There is one wage-hour change I can support. Pending in the Ohio legislature is a bill that would require retail employers to pay triple-time to employees who work on Thanksgiving. Dear readers, please do not shop on Thanksgiving. Retailers require employees to give up their holiday because we show up for sales like lemmings to the 25% off sticker. I understand why safety forces and medical workers need to give up their holidays. But the cashier at Target? He or she deserves the day of add much as I you and I do. So if we need a law to disincentive employment on these days, then so be it.

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