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Another hit to Vermont workers

The Congressional tax plans aren’t the only policies in Washington that could make life harder for working families and the middle class.

Possible changes to the federal overtime rules may also take money away from thousands of Vermonters.  A new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute shows that 19,000 Vermont workers could lose a combined $3 million in overtime pay if the Trump administration rolls back a 2016 rule change updating who’s eligible.

Federal rules establish who qualifies for overtime pay, which is 1.5 times a worker’s normal rate of pay for any hours over 40 in a week. Who qualifies is based both on the nature of the work and a salary threshold. Salaried workers with high-level duties who make above a certain salary threshold are exempt.

Currently, employers are required to pay overtime to salaried workers unless the workers have executive, administrative, or professional duties and make less than $23,660 a year. This threshold has not been updated since 2004, and prior to that had not been updated since 1975. It is now less than half of what it would be if it had kept up with inflation, leaving out thousands of Vermont workers.

This salary threshold is what’s currently being debated.

In 2016 the Obama administration updated the threshold to $47,476, but that rule was put on hold by the courts and is being reconsidered by the Trump administration at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Household incomes have been stagnant for over a decade and the median wage has barely budged. To protect Vermont families, we need to increase—not decrease—wages and make sure they don’t erode over time.

Raising the minimum wage to a livable wage would be a step in the right direction.  But at the very least, we should ensure that salaried workers on the low end of the pay scale are paid time and a half for working a long week.

Posted by Stephanie Yu on December 12, 2017 at 4:27 pm

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