- A bill introduced in the House Thursday would would increase the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) minimum salary threshold for overtime exemption from a weekly salary that amounts to $23,660 per year to $48,412 per year, "codify[ing] the Obama Administration's 2016 overtime rule." That rule would have put the threshold at $47,476 with automatic increases.
- The Restoring Overtime Pay Act would make at least four million workers newly eligible for overtime pay, the sponsors say.
- The Obama-era rule was struck down by a federal district court and never took effect, although litigation is ongoing.
It remains to be seen whether the bill will have any success. It faces a Republican-controlled Congress and even Republican-backed employment-related bills have been put on the back burner while lawmakers focus on health care and a tax plan.
It is, at the very least, a sign that Democrats may not give up on an increase to the FLSA overtime threshold any time soon. Republicans generally aren't opposed to an increase, although many have said they'd like to see a threshold in the $32,000 to $35,000 range. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) appears to be working on replacement regulations to that effect.
A legislative fix would be a novel approach. The FLSA itself doesn't have a salary threshold written into the statute. Instead, DOL has for decades maintained a minimum threshold through regulation. In finding that the Obama-era rules were invalid, however, a federal judge questioned DOL's authority to set any threshold at all. The department has now asked the courts to approve the concept of a salary threshold, albeit a lower one that doesn't arguably effectively supplant the law's duties tests. The proposal in Congress likely involves a higher threshold than Republicans would want to see, but amending the FLSA to include a threshold could remove any doubt about its legality.