New employment rules in 2020 make more workers eligible for overtime

Updated: Jan. 2, 2020 at 4:58 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The new year brings big changes in pay for workers nationwide as more of them are now overtime eligible. It’s estimated 1.3 million workers across the country who were previously ineligible for overtime are now entitled to receive it as of Jan. 1, 2020.

Experts said impact would likely be greater noticed among small and medium-sized businesses. Employees and employers heading back to work after the Christmas and New Year’s holiday may find their compensation practices are now outdated.

“Any business that employs these folks needs to look at their practices now and see if they are paying their people correctly,” said attorney Alan Crone.

Memphis employment attorney Alan Crone said that’s thanks to new federal overtime rules meant to keep earnings on pace with inflation.

“This is going to affect people who maybe are assistant managers, or bookkeepers, or provide administrative support in an office environment,” said Crone.

The Department of Labor has now set $35,568 annually as the minimum salary to be exempt from overtime pay. Anyone making less than that must be paid overtime, which is 1.5 times their hourly rate for any hours worked over 40 in a week. That new figure is up from $23,660, which was the prior salary amount for exemption.

Employees must also have administrative, executive, or professional job duties to be exempted from overtime pay.

"Anybody who's getting a salary that works a lot of hours but doesn't have a lot of autonomy and independent judgment would probably want to look at whether they're being paid correctly," said Crone.

Crone said if you think you’re not being paid properly you can go to the Department of Labor directly to file a complaint. He also advises contacting an employment attorney to evaluate your claim.

But he said some workers will likely choose not to bring up the issue, to keep the peace and their job, despite having federal protections.

“A good job is better than a great lawsuit,” said Crone. " A lot of people say they don’t want to rock the boat, and I don’t tell people they’re not going to be retaliated against if they insist in getting paid more money. Now the nice thing is the law does protect you if that happens."

The exemption amount was actually much higher as proposed in the Obama administration, at more than $47,000. That would have made about four million additional people eligible for overtime. A federal judge struck down that provision in 2017.

You can read more information about the changes in this article from Forbes magazine.

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