by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jason Russell of the Washington Examiner reports on aspects of the Obama administration’s new overtime rule that deserve more attention.
Before I worked at the Washington Examiner, I was a research associate with Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute. Every day I produced a draft of the Economics21 Ebrief newsletter, which required compiling about 20 timely and interesting links a day. …
… Anyone who was close to me during that time can tell you the newsletter was not my favorite part of the job. For the most part, the newsletter came on top of my nine-to-five duties, so I worked more than 40 hours a week.
Thankfully, my boss, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, was happy to give me extra vacation time to offset my overtime hours. The rigid work hours were sometimes difficult, but it was worth it because I likely wouldn’t have gotten the extra time off in another job.
The new overtime rule from President Obama’s Department of Labor kills that flexibility for millions of people.
The rule will affect 4.2 million workers who earn between $23,700 and $47,500 per year. It requires employers to pay those workers time and a half for every hour worked above 40 hours a week — even if those workers would rather earn more paid time off instead.
Vice President Biden oversimplified the issue on Tuesday. “Companies will have a choice to make: Either they pay their workers overtime or they cap the work week at 40 hours,” Biden said. “Either way, the worker wins.”
Furchtgott-Roth mentioned a third option to me in an email. Time and a half isn’t an option on a tight nonprofit budget. “I would have had to count your Ebrief hours carefully and send you home at 3. ?Or I could have paid you overtime and adjusted your base pay down. That’s probably what I would have done. The big disadvantage for you is that I could not have given you extra days off to see your family instead of extra hours worked.”
Same pay, same hours worked, less time off. That’s not ideal for anyone, especially not the low-income workers Obama is trying to help.