The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), established in 1938, set out to provide U.S. workers with minimum wage, recordkeeping policies and even youth employment standards for full-time and part-time workers within the private sector. Overtime pay is one of the most quintessential benefits provided by the FLSA considering the importance that overworked employees are recognized and compensated for laboring longer than recommended by law. However, not all employees are eligible to receive overtime pay due to past restrictions. Now, lawmakers are challenging this statute in hopes of helping millions of Americans working long hours without fair pay.
U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) have all pledged to fight for the expansion of overtime pay protections under the FLSA. The Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a plan that would help extend overtime pay to nearly five million salaried Americans making up to $50,440. Since the 1970s, employers have only been required to provide overtime pay to employees making $23,660 or less.
The Senators’ letter, mailed to Labor Secretary Tom Perez this week, calls on the DOL to finalize the overtime pay proposal as soon as possible, claiming that the cost of education, childcare and retirement have all risen without the extension of overtime pay:
“As our economy continues to recover from the Great Recession, we, as a country, need to work on ways to help our economy grow from the middle out, not the top down,” wrote the Senators. “But today, despite longer working hours and higher productivity, workers’ wages have remained virtually unchanged. Millions of people are working harder than ever without basic overtime protections. We applaud the Department of Labor’s move to update the overtime pay threshold, and we are writing to request that you quickly finalize the rule to ensure millions of workers are paid fairly for the hours they work.”