President Obama has been pushing congress to increase the federal minimum wage, but has met stiff resistance from legislators. However, Obama has signaled his intention to use executive authority to grant more U.S. workers access to overtime pay.
On Thursday, it is expected that Obama will sign an executive order instructing the Labor Department to revise white collar exemptions in the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Currently, the exemption does not entitle workers who work in executive, clerical or professional jobs who make more than $455 per week to collect overtime. Obama said that threshold — established in 2004 — is too low since it is currently below the poverty line for workers supporting a family of four.
Obama’s executive order would also direct the Labor Department to tweak the list of job duties that define a job as “white collar,” and to simplify overtime rules.
The present rules were established in 2004 under the Bush administration, with the stated goal of simplifying the system. However, labor unions and many democrats disagreed with the rules since they make many more workers ineligible for overtime.