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    House Committee Debates Overtime Pay Proposal

    Trade groups raise voices over proposed overtime rules.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress took up the issue of overtime pay in a subcommittee hearing July 23, with one lawmaker calling proposed changes misguided.

    House Education and the Workforce's Subcommittee on Workforce Protection held a hearing entitled, "Examining the Costs and Consequences of the Administration's Overtime Proposal" in response to the Department of Labor's recently proposed rule that would raise the salary threshold under which employees must be paid overtime rates for hours worked, according to NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

    The new overtime rule from the Labor Department would more than double the threshold at which employers can avoid paying overtime, to $970 a week by next year. That would mean salaried employees earning less than $50,440 a year would be assured overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week, as CSNews Online previously reported.

    During the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said the proposal was both "flawed" and "misguided," arguing that the Labor Department should have sought "a balanced approach that will strengthen employee safeguards, eliminate employer confusion and uncertainty, and encourage growth and prosperity for those working hard to make a living," NACS reported.

    However, Subcommittee Ranking Member Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), said the proposed rule would restore "a fair day's pay for a fair day's work."

    Subcommittee members heard testimony from Elizabeth Hays, director of Human Resources at MHY Family Services; Eric Williams, chief operating officer of CKE Restaurant Holdings Inc.; Ross Eisenbrey, vice president at the Economic Policy Institute; and Tammy McCutchen, principal at Littler Mendelson P.C. on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    As the subcommittee took up the issue, trade associations and business groups banded together to voice concerns about the proposed changes to overtime rules to Walberg and Wilson.

    The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) signed a joint letter with 42 other trade associations and business groups that comprise the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity to express concern over the Department of Labor's recently proposed federal overtime regulations. 

    "The department's proposal largely undermines the flexibility, workplace autonomy and growth opportunities currently offered by retailers," said Kelly Kolb, RILA's vice president, government affairs. "Rather than raising standards of living for employees or customers, these new rules would force employers to either raise prices to absorb a dramatic increase in labor costs or limit leadership opportunities."

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