Public to weigh in on state proposal allowing more workers to earn overtime pay

VIDEO: Washington State's overtime rules up for debate

The public weighed in Tuesday on a plan that would allow more full-time employees in Washington to earn overtime pay.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is changing employment rules that determine which salaried employees in Washington are required by law to receive overtime pay, minimum wage and paid sick leave. These changes will affect Executive, Administrative, and Professional (EAP) workers across all industries in Washington State. -- Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

The first of several public feedback sessions on the proposal was held at the Swedish Club on Dexter Avenue North in Seattle at 10 a.m.

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The state wants to change the overtime salary threshold, which currently falls below the state's minimum wage.

As a result, thousands of salaried workers don't get the chance to earn time-and-a-half who otherwise might if they worked more than 40 hours.

KIRO 7 spoke to University of Washington professor Jacob Vigdor, who said that the mandatory minimum wage didn't mean that employers cut back hours, but it did impact the job market.

“What these results are pointing to is a possibility that there's a little bit of a trade-off here. That there's a fairly large group of workers that are coming out ahead, but there may be another group of workers who is struggling to get that first job,” said Vigdor.

Some wonder whether requiring employers to pay overtime to some salaried employees would change who and how many people are hired.

Others say the rules need to be changed since they haven’t been updated for 40 years.

The department is proposing a rule that will raise the salary threshold to between 2 and 2.5 times the state minimum wage for a 40-hour work week, but L&I is still taking input from the public to determine if the threshold should be raised in higher-wage areas.

According to L&I, "changes to rules will mean some some employers will have to provide overtime, minimum wage, and paid sick leave to employees who previously were considered exempt. These employees will have new rights and protections under the Minimum Wage Act."