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President Obama proposes wage law changes

Workers in Missouri may be affected by some potential changes in the nation's wage laws

President Obama is planning to add wage protection to managers who earn low salaries but are disqualified from earning overtime.

Millions of American workers could be affected by the anticipated proposal from the Department of Labor, which could potentially raise the exempted income threshold from $23,660 to a figure in the range of $42,000 and $52,000. Policy experts say there may be changes in the ways job duties are determined to be exempt.

Companies seeking to duck overtime payments to their full-time employees earning as little as $455 per week, or $23,660 annually, now are able to do so by misclassifying the workers as exempt employees who are paid a salary as opposed to an hourly wage. These misclassified employees can also work many more than 40 hours a week in sales and administrative positions.

The move may not be enough to satisfy the more liberal advocates, who want to see even higher income thresholds than the increase would provide. They also are lobbying for more specific language to define what qualifies a job to be exempt from overtime pay, such as requiring more than half of the employee's time be devoted to exempt duties. Companies can dodge paying their workers overtime by titling them as managers with little to no power in those positions.

On the other side of the coin, companies worry about their bottom lines. Some may hire more employees to work fewer hours and question the wisdom of a single income threshold across the nation.

There could be downsides to the proposal if salaried workers wind up losing benefits and scheduling latitude.

An employment law attorney is one source of information for the ramifications of any changes to United States wage and hour laws.

Source: CNN, "Coming soon: A change in who gets overtime pay" Jeanne Sahadi, Feb. 15, 2015

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