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Congress Looks at Overtime Reform Legislation

It may be near the bottom of the ninth, but the ballgame ain’t over yet.

At least that is what an impressive coalition of business and non-profit groups are saying when it comes to implementation of new federal overtime rules.  The Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (H.R. 5813) may still be brought to a vote before the end of this congressional session following a rising current of grassroots activity urging Congress to reverse the new federal overtime labor rules. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor issued final rules on the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rules which more than doubles the salary thresholds for paying overtime. The final regulations amend the “white collar” exemptions of the FLSA and stipulates that the Labor Department will raise the threshold every three years going forward.  The rules become effective December 1, 2016 and are expected to be hugely disruptive and seriously damaging to a wide array of workplaces and employees.

With employers across the nation bracing for the changes, there is a contingent that believes Congress must change the rule before it goes into effect. Many in the business community are concerned that the overtime threshold will adversely affect employers with limited revenues and could harm many affected employees as well. To address these concerns, Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced H.R. 5813, which provides a more reasonable timeline for organizations to comply with the significant payroll burden.  Rep. Schrader has said that “without sufficient time to plan for the increase, cuts and demotions will become inevitable, and workers will actually end up making less than they made before.”

With Congress preparing to adjourn soon for the November elections, there is little time left for lawmakers to change the rule before it takes effect. However, this has not stopped the grassroots effort within the business community which has already held numerous meetings on Capitol Hill. The group recently released a call to action indicating a belief that the new reform bill will be brought to a vote if there is a strong showing of support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. 

The legislation has the support from more than 100 organizations representing a wide range of industries and professions, all of whom have indicated that businesses must have time to plan for payroll increases without jeopardizing their prospects for future growth and success. 

ISRI is inviting any ISRI member who believes this has impact to utilize the ISRI Advocacy Webpage tools and contact his or her Members of Congress to support the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (H.R. 5813), urging them bring it to a vote before December 1, 2016.  To find your legislators, visit http://www.ISRIadvocacy.org or contact Billy Johnson at 202-662-8548, or BillyJohnson@ISRI.org.

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