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Big Overtime Pay Changes May Be On Horizon

WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Millions of American workers may be seeing a boost in their paychecks soon thanks to a planned executive order from President Barack Obama.

According to the New York Times, President Obama will direct the Labor Department to change its regulations to require overtime pay for several million fast-food managers, loan officers, computer technicians, and others who are classified by businesses as "executive or professional" to avoid paying those workers overtime.

Specifically, employers are currently prohibited from denying overtime pay to any salaried worker who makes less than $455 per week. Under the proposed new rules, the salary level would be significantly increased.

In addition, according to the Times, the new rules could require employees to perform a minimum percentage of "executive" work before they can be exempted from qualifying for overtime pay.

The decision could change the way businesses force workers to work overtime in exchange for comp time or other perks that may not ever be received. It's also a shot across the bow of Congressional Republicans who have blocked an increase in the federal minimum wage.

However, as the New York Times pointed out, in 2004, "business groups persuaded President George W. Bush to allow them greater latitude on exempting salaried white-collar workers from overtime pay." The move came despite fierce objections from organized labor groups.

The potential change in rules from the Labor Department would require public comment before it was enacted.

The move also carries political weight in a mid-term election year. Democrats have traditionally struggled in mid-term elections due to lower voter turnout. The party plans to focus on income inequality and job problems during the campaign to help turn out more voters in November.

The White House hopes that moves like this one will get voters believe Democrats are on the side of everyday workers.

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