President Obama wants to expand overtime: business owners react - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

President Obama wants to expand overtime: business owners react

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(03/13/14) - Thursday, President Barack Obama took action to expand overtime pay to some salary employees.

He signed an executive order asking the Labor Department to update the rules on who qualified for overtime pay.

It's a move he says is a common sense principal. Others say it could hurt the economy.

President Obama says this is going to make a difference for a number of workers, such as fast food supervisors and retail managers as well as office workers.

The people we spoke to have mixed opinions.

Jennifer Avitts owns Beyond the Basics Dog Care in Burton. She says she's happy President Obama signed a memorandum that's aimed to expand overtime pay.

"I do think that if people are on salary and they put the extra hours in, there should be extra pay involved," she said.

President Obama is directing the Labor Department to propose rules that expand the number of employees who benefit from overtime pay.

The rules would apply to some salaried workers.

Right now, only workers earning $455 per week or less are eligible for overtime pay.

The new rules would set that amount higher. The exact number hasn't been set yet.

"We're going to consult with both workers and businesses as we update our overtime rules. We're going to work to simplify the system so it's easier for employers and employees alike," Obama said.

Chris Douglas, an associate professor of economics at UM-Flint says this may not help the Mid-Michigan economy.

"These kind of regulations hit the retail industry hard where profit margins are already pretty thin. So I think if you're a worker who's been laid off, it could make it more expensive to employ that worker," he said.

Although Avitts likes the idea of strengthening overtime pay, she says it could impact the way store owners do business.

"I may be inclined to hire more people working part-time instead of less people working full-time because we couldn't necessarily afford the extra pay," she said.

The rules don't require congressional action. They'll likely take effect in 2015.

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