Overtime overhaul

Wednesday, August 4th 2004, 11:49 am
By: News On 6

On August 23rd, new rules go into effect that could make sweeping changes on which of us gets overtime and which of us doesn't. So just which of us is it?

As News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg explains, it depends on who you ask.

Nursing has been a big focus in the discussion of the new overtime rules. In part, because it's hard work and they work long hours, overtime hours. Peggy Budnik with the Oklahoma Nurses Association says no one is still sure what effect the new rules are going to have. "Here it is, this new regulation goes into effect August 23rd, here it is August 4th, and we don't know."

She says she's heard many different interpretations of the new rules. Opponents of the new rules say they will make a lot more professions ineligible for overtime. Under the current rules, they say, people have to have the ability to "hire and fire" and the authority to "exercise independent judgment" among other things to be considered management level.

With the new rules, they say, a person would only have to have a "high level of skill or training" and "be in a position of responsibility" to be what the rules call a "learned professional". "I think anybody who has had any experience with a nurse would agree nursing definitely falls in that category."

And that has nurses worried they could lose their overtime. Nurses in particular are in short supply right now and Budnik says it could discourage people from going into the profession.

Overall, opponents say 8-million people will lose their right to overtime pay. Opponents say the new rules will increase the number of low-salary workers who get overtime, which they say is good news, but at the same time, they say the rules will take away overtime from a much greater number of people in the mid-ranges of salaries.