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73,000 Coloradans Could Soon Become Eligible For Overtime Pay

DENVER (CBS4) - Being overworked and underpaid is a complaint that's become all too common, but the Obama administration is trying to change that with new rules that force businesses to pay more overtime.

Four million workers nationwide could be impacted with 73,000 in Colorado. Many of them are managers in industries like food services who say overtime pay is overdue.

Like many workers across the country, Carol Barillas says he's overworked and underpaid. He says he often works more than 40 hours a week.

"I think like about 50, 55; something like that," Barillas said.

But as a restaurant manager, he's paid a salary, so he doesn't get overtime. Under a new rule by the Obama administration, he would.

"Mark my words -- the benefit is going to be beyond the compensation. It's going to be, 'Maybe we're getting things right,'" Vice President Joe Biden said.

The current annual salary at which companies can deny overtime is about $23,600. Under the new rule -- which takes effect Dec. 1 -- it doubles to nearly $47,500.

(credit: CBS)

"I think this impacts even our smallest employers the worst, because those are employers that are barely holding on now," Loren Furman with the Colorado Association of Commerce said.

Furman says small businesses operate on thin margins. Those employers may switch salaried workers to hourly positions and cut their base pay, so that even after overtime their overall income won't change.

Furman says other employers may cut hours or benefits.

Loren Furman with the Colorado Association of Commerce
CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews Loren Furman with the Colorado Association of Commerce (credit: CBS)

"I think some employers are going to adjust how this rule impacts them, and may adjust how somebody is paid. So those workers that are being estimated now may not necessarily see that increase," Furman said.

The state Legislature took up a bill similar to the rule change last year but it failed amid pressure from businesses.

Some analysts estimate restaurants will have to raise prices more than 5 percent to offset the higher costs.

Not all employees like the change. Some prefer the workplace flexibility that comes with a salary and not tracking every hour.

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