MassBudget: Modernizing Massachusetts overtime law would protect 435,000 modestly paid workers
Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
May 2, 2019
Modernizing Massachusetts overtime law would protect 435,000 modestly paid workers
Bringing the Massachusetts overtime law into the 21st century would protect precious time off the job for 435,000 modestly paid, salaried workers in the state.
Both the Massachusetts Legislature and the Trump Administration's Department of Labor (DoL) are considering updates to the dollar threshold below which salaried workers gain automatic overtime protection.
Under federal law, salaried workers who make below $455 per week are automatically eligible for overtime pay - 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for the first 40 hours. Not only is this federal threshold below the poverty level for a family of four in Massachusetts, but it is also less than what a worker would make working 40 hours per week at the state's minimum wage - $480 per week.
"Many salaried workers in Massachusetts currently have to work long hours without being compensated for overtime," said Jeremy Thompson, Senior Policy Analyst and author of the report. "Weak, outdated, and unclear state and federal overtime laws make it easy for employers to require salaried workers to work overtime without paying them more than if they had worked 40 hours."
The Massachusetts proposals would set the salary threshold at twice the state's minimum wage by 2024 and would peg the threshold to inflation so it can keep pace with cost of living changes. The DoL proposes to set the salary threshold based on what the lowest-paid, salaried workers in the lowest-cost region of the country (the South) earn, and it would not peg this threshold to inflation. The DoL proposal would cover 330,000 fewer workers than the Massachusetts bills by 2024.
"When workers give up scarce personal time for their jobs, they deserve to be fairly compensated for that time," said Marie-Frances Rivera, President of MassBudget. "In a high-cost state like Massachusetts, the proposed federal rules would leave hundreds of thousands of salaried workers behind."
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.
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