Have the overtime rules changed?

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Question:

I've heard a lot about new overtime rules, but the things I'm hearing seem to contradict each other. The government seems to be saying that more workers are eligible for overtime now, but labor unions say the rules are bad for workers. What do the new rules actually require?

Answer:

The rules governing who is entitled to overtime did change, in August 2004. And while both sides get some benefits from the new rules, most commentators seem to agree that businesses came out a little farther ahead than workers.

The rules redefine the categories of workers who are eligible to earn overtime (one-and-a-half times their regular hourly pay) for working extra hours. One major -- and long overdue -- change raised the salary floor for overtime eligibility.

Under the new rules, most employees who earn less than $23,660 per year are entitled to overtime (the old rule set this floor at $13,000). The rules also make certain workers -- including manual laborers and "first responders," such as firefighters and emergency medical personnel -- automatically eligible for overtime.

On the other hand, the rules make changes to the definitions of "administrative, clerical, and professional employees" -- generally white-collar and office workers -- so that fewer of these employees are now eligible for overtime.

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