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WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a late night vote on Sept. 28, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to delay the implementation of the new federal overtime rule by six months.
The measure, known as the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Nonprofits Act, would direct the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to push the date back from Dec. 1 to June 1. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) was the lead sponsor in the House.
"We all agree we need to modernize our nation's overtime rules, but small businesses, nonprofits, and colleges and universities should not be hurt in the process," Walberg said. "The department needs to abandon this flawed rule and pursue the balanced approach we've been fighting for from the start. Instead, they are forcing those who have to deal with the real-world consequences to make significant changes before an arbitrary December deadline.
"While the department continues to ignore widespread concerns, the House has taken an important bipartisan step to provide hardworking Americans more time to implement this expansive rule. The administration should do the right thing and approve this much-needed delay," he added.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) welcomed the passage of the legislation.
"Retailers applaud Congressman Walberg and his House colleagues for fighting to provide relief to employees and employers who face considerable harm caused by the enormous and sudden changes imposed by this rule," said Jennifer Safavian, executive vice president for government affairs.
"This vote is an important step toward protecting workers from mass reclassification, a move that will likely rob them of the flexibility and upward mobility they currently enjoy. We urge the Senate to also provide needed relief from this damaging rule, and look forward to continuing the conversation about how the DOL's policies harm workers," she added.
A few hours before the House voted on the billl, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools and Nonprofits Act to the U.S. Senate Wednesday afternoon. However, according to The Hill, President Obama has already promised to veto the bill.
Lankford and Walberg, lead sponsors of the bill in their respective parts of Congress, are hoping to legislation will encourage the administration to delay the rule on its own, the report added.
Any further action could take some time, cautioned NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. According to the association, the Senate does not have any scheduled votes again until Nov.15 — as lawmakers head back to their districts for the election season — "a short two weeks before implementation."
NACS advised convenience employers to continue operating as if this rule is going into effect as scheduled. "At this point, the only feasible way it would be stopped is if a lawsuit filed last week by 21 states suddenly gains some traction, though that too is seen as unlikely before Dec. 1," the association said.
The Obama Administration unveiled the new rule in May. The most notable change announced will be a nearly doubling of the current salary threshold from its current $23,360 to $47,476, under which virtually all workers will be eligible for time-and-a-half pay. This change would make nearly 5 million currently exempt employees eligible nationwide.
Under the new rule, states are still empowered to enact their own statutes that differ from the new federal regulations. However, businesses are subject to whichever requirements are more generous to employees.