This week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released new regulations expanding the number of workers who qualify for overtime pay. Starting this December, under the new overtime rules, salaried workers are eligible for overtime pay if they are paid $47,476 a year or less. The new rules also require the salary threshold to be automatically updated every three years, beginning January 1, 2020.
Under the previous overtime rules, the salary threshold was $23,660 annually—essentially poverty wages. Many who work in excess of 40 hours per week are currently denied the wages they deserve, which is harmful to workers, their families, and our economy.
DOL’s overtime rule change will have a profound impact on the lives of LGBTQ workers and their families and communities. The new regulations will provide or strengthen overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act for more than 13 million salaried workers, hundreds of thousands of who are LGBTQ people.
Despite the significant political, social, and legal gains made by the LGBTQ community, many LGBTQ workers across the country struggle to make ends meet. Being LGBT, particularly if one is a woman, transgender, or a person of color, exacerbates the economic hardships already faced by all low and middle-income workers in the United States. These hardships include, but are not limited to, unpaid sick and family leave, poverty wages, and a lack of free or affordable childcare, healthcare, and housing. For this reason, the LGBTQ rights movement includes ending poverty.
Like all other people, LGBTQ people have aspirations related to economic prosperity, including attaining higher education, finding a job, generating enough income to afford adequate housing and healthcare, saving for the future, and supporting a family. The combination of unjust discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the barriers to economic security for low-income people make this overtime rule a significant policy gain for LGBTQ people and families.
LGBTQ people who have to struggle to put food on the table even after working more than 40 hours a week will be more likely to receive fair pay for hours worked. Employers who have been relying on their employees’ free labor now will have to acknowledge the value of the time worked over 40 hours—time away from family, time to work an additional job to bring in additional income, and time for leisure activities that are vital for work-life balance. The new rule will either limit workers to 40-hour work weeks, giving them more time with their families, or compensate them for the extra hours worked.