Federal law requires most companies to pay minimum wage and overtime pay for employees unless they qualify for an exemption. Employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and get a salary of at least $684 per week, which works out to just $35,568 per year.
But a new overtime reform bill introduced earlier this week in both the House and the Senate aims to boost that salary level yearly until 2027 to make it much easier for salaried American workers to be overtime eligible.
The legislation is called the Restoring Overtime Pay Act. Here’s how it would work:
If President Biden signs the bill into law in 2023, the salary level for the overtime exemption would immediately jump to $45,000 per year, which is about $865 per week. The salary level would then increase by $10,000 in January 2024, 2025, and 2026, when it reaches $75,000 per year.
Then, beginning on January 1, 2027, the salary level would increase again to an annualized amount equal to the rate of the 55th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers nationally, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics based on data from the second quarter of 2026.
“By phasing the overtime salary threshold back up to the 55th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers nationally—which after adjusting for inflation is projected to translate to an annualized amount of $73,551 in 2021 and $82,745 by 2026 (roughly the level of the boldest State overtime threshold increase)—the United States can restore overtime protections to historic levels,” reads the legislation.
According to the bill’s sponsors, “the salary threshold became woefully out of date and ineffective” because just 15 percent of all full-time salaried workers in 2019 were guaranteed overtime pay, as compared to 63 percent in 1975, when Carlton Fisk walked off historically to end Game Six of the World Series and the Bee Gees were jive talkin’.
Even if this bill doesn’t pass, that’s not the be-all and end-all.
Many, including Kate Tornone at HR Dive, have reported that the U.S. Department of Labor plans to propose a rule in May to update the salary level. Ms. Tornone notes that while the exact dollar level is unknown, “in 2021, four congressional Democrats argued for a threshold in line with the ‘historical high point of salary thresholds — the 55th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers nationwide.'”
Not coincidentally, three of the four congressional Democrats have sponsored the Restoring Overtime Pay Act.