Last Wednesday, May 19, the Obama administration issued a new rule on overtime pay.
The U.S. Department of Labor said it will earn 4.2 million American workers either extra money or extra free time. However, business groups as well as the lawyers who represent the workforce said it will lose the U.S. middle-class workers their job flexibility and the perks that come with it.
The new overtime rule represents a long overdue triumph for many labor groups. The last time they were updated was over 10 years ago.
Under the new regulations, full-time employees earning up to $47,476 annually will become eligible for overtime pay. The current threshold is just up to $23,660 per year. The new rule will kick off on Dec. 1 this year.
While extra money represents a good thing, it could curtail some of the "perks" many office workers live for. These perks include the freedom to work from home a few days a week or leaving the office early and continuing work in the privacy of their own homes.
The workforce's lawyers said the new rule might even result in limited access to work email and company laptops. The millennials, the young blood in today's workforce, are accustomed to their work flexibility.
"As an employer, you have to think about how much time did the person really work, or is the employee potentially going to be able to create a claim against us," said Paul DeCamp from the Jackson Lewis law firm in Reston, Virginia.
DeCamp added that it might pose a problem to the employers, and the immediate reaction would be, "No, you can't work from home. Sorry."
There are also those who say the new law may not result in such extreme measures. Others believe that the workforce will revel in a clearer division of work and home. Moreover, this sharper division will free them from their office gadgets and actually enjoy their time off work.
"For many of these types of employees they're going to be viewing it as a demotion. They're going to have to clock in and clock out. They're no longer going to have flexibility at work," said National Retail Federation government relations senior vice president David French.
Photo: Jesús Corrius | Flickr