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March 31, 2003
Proposed Changes to Overtime Rules Leave Questions
The Labor Department last week touted changes to overtime rules that government officials say would simplify and modernize the regulations, but questions remain about who exactly would be eligible for overtime, the Houston Chronicle reports.

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The rules would entitle 1.3 million low-wage managers to overtime, but would make thousands of white-collar workers exempt, according to the department. The newspaper notes the changes would be the first revisions to some of the rules in 50 years.

White-collar employees who earn less than $425 per week, which is up from the current threshold of $155, would be automatically eligible for overtime under the proposal.

Under the proposed regulations, if an engineer works with her hands she may be eligible for overtime pay, the Chronicle reports. An engineer who doesn't work with her hands may not.

The proposed rules would make workers whose primary job is to sell exempt from time and one-half when they work over 40 hours. A highly trained nurse without a degree from university may not receive overtime because of the changes that would shift the way education level is measured as well, the newspaper reports.

In addition, administrative employees earning $65,000 or more per year would be exempt from overtime pay, the newspaper reports. The Labor Department is also proposing to replace language in a test for determining exempt or nonexempt status, from "exercises discretion and independent judgment" to "position of responsibility."

One employment-law attorney does not find the new definition any clearer.

"What does that mean?" says Ellen Kearns, an attorney with Epstein Becker and Green.

The reclassification would eliminate overtime eligibility for 640,000 workers, according to a study commissioned by the department, but labor leaders estimate more would be affected, the newspaper reports.


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