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May 13, 2004
House Blocks Vote on Changes to Bush OT Plan

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives were able to block an attempt by Democrats to force a vote on a measure that would alter the Bush administrations' overhaul of the overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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Representative George Miller of California aimed to force a vote on a proposed a measure that would require workers who are currently eligible for overtime to be eligible for overtime when new rules go into effect August 23, the Associated Press reports. The House blocked Miller's procedural move on a vote of 222-205. The measure to alter the Bush administration's plan is similar to one already approved by the Senate.

The Senate has also approved 99-0 another amendment that would provide greater overtime protection for 55 categories of occupations. Senate Republicans proposed this legislation to ward off the Democrats' effort. In the end, however, the Senate approved both measures.

The Labor Department contends the Democrats' legislation is ambiguous and would weaken overtime protections.

The department's new rules cover the white-collar exemptions of the FLSA. The rules raise the salary threshold below which workers are generally guaranteed overtime from $8,060 per year to $23,660 per year. The Labor Department estimates 1.3 million low-wage workers will gain overtime eligibility as a result.

The Democrats' legislation would allow this change to occur. Democrats support changes that would increase the number of workers guaranteed overtime. Critics contend some of the Labor Department's changes would strip overtime from too many workers.

Supporters of the new regulations say the rules clarify who is eligible for overtime and will reduce the number of employee lawsuits over overtime.

BLR's new Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide will thoroughly cover the new overtime rules, including any changes resulting from the current legislative maneuvering. Sign up now to reserve your copy.


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